Monday, October 17, 2011

Top 8 Holiday Shopping Tips for 2011

With only 69 shopping days left till Christmas have you started your gift shopping?  Or are you done already?

Most people wait till the last minute to do their Christmas shopping, I am not one of them. I am one of those that typically start Holiday shopping for next year during all the sales the day after Christmas. Then I pick up a gift here and there throughout the year. My goal every year is to be completely done with my Holiday gift shopping before Thanksgiving. The years I accomplish this it leaves me more time to enjoy the fun and festivities of the season without being strapped for time.

Regardless of your shopping habits the following list of holiday shopping tips is bound to help you survive, stay sane and hopefully stress free during the holiday shopping craziness. While I know these tips probably won’t work for everyone, they are tried and true methods I have used in years past.

My Top 8 Holiday Shopping Tips:

1.) Remember You First --- It may be the season of giving, but we all work hard and deserve to treat ourselves too. Whether this is a large item or a small item, you are deserving and let’s face it no one else is going to do it for you no matter what they may say to the contrary. Besides taking care of yourself allows you the energy and humor to care for others and enjoy the spirit of the holidays.

2.) Set a Budget for yourself – and stick to it. Living expenses don’t disappear during the holidays, set a reasonable budget that doesn’t leave you feeling deprived or overworked to meet the financial requirements you set.

3.) Ask for a list -- Remember when we were kids and would write lists of what we dreamed of having for Christmas and magically some of those items would be under the tree. Our parents were not mind readers, why do we expect ourselves to be as adults? It is much easier to shop when you have an idea of what the person is wanting or needing.

4.) Shop Online – I may have a love/hate relationship with computers (love them when they work right, hate them when they don’t) but, wow do they make shopping with a budget so much easier. No gas, no crowds to deal with, I purchase as much as I can on-line. Heck if, I could justify it I would grocery shop on-line and have it delivered…lol Ok, so as you can see I am a big supporter of on-line shopping. Yet, some of you may be wondering how I can acquire a personal gift of the handmade variety without shopping in person. So easy, there are a lot of handmade selling sites out there, the one I would recommend is Art Fire.

Yes, they would be my top choice even if we didn’t have our on-line studio with them. They are secure, quick to address problems, the community is willing to step in and help when a buyer is having an issue with a studio for whatever reason. Here is the biggest reason they are my top choice though, Art Fire does not require buyers to set up an account with them in order to make a purchase. Setting up a buying only account is optional. For me this is a big one.

5.) Keep a list – This list is going to be a running list of the people you still need gifts for and what they are interested in. Every time you purchase a gift for someone cross that person off the list. Note on the list what you purchased for them and when you get home mark it with a “yellow sticky” or whatever color you prefer. I tend to really like the neon green ones myself. This step will help you stay on track with your budget. More importantly you will not only remember what you bought for whom, but will not end up with 3 gifts for one person and none for someone else on the list.

6.) Find a shopping buddy – shopping is just better with a friend. Not to mention that stores in general are crazy busy this time of year, making it easy to miss not only what you are looking for but deals as well. You will cover more territory, saving time and have a great time doing it.

7.) Map your shopping trip – you have your list, you have your shopping buddy, the last thing is to plan and map the most efficient route for your shopping trip. In doing so, you will save time, gas, and if you’re really efficient you will avoid the worst of the crowds by timing to shop in off hours versus peak hours. Don’t worry; I miss the mark on this one every time I am in charge of mapping our route. It is one of those things that either take lots and lots of practice or you have to be born with a sense for it. Since I avoid shopping…  Well you can see the problem there.

8.) Bring your own shopping bags – Mark them with an identifying mark. Generally they are easier to carry than a store’s standard bag. Also with them being distinctive, it will help cut down the chances on the theft occurring, that tends to increase during the holiday season.

What great ideas do you have to help tame the holiday shopping mayhem?

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