When the clock strikes midnight on October 31st, one can almost feel the shift in the atmosphere as November rushes in. Suddenly, Hallowe’en is over, and Christmas preparation has begun. Stores change their decor almost instantaneously as the last “trick-or-treater” leaves with her costume. Now that it’s December, the holiday music has started to play in stores, the snow is starting to fall (in between rain-spells), and Christmas is fast approaching, which means that holiday shopping is upon us. Shopping during this time of year can be stressful, so here are 12 holiday shopping tips to help you make the most of your holiday shopping.
1. Make a list
Staying organized is important if you want to get anything done efficiently. In order to minimize your time of aimlessly wandering from shop to shop, looking for whatever sparks an interest, you can jot down anything that you may need to look for and go from there. It’s also a great idea to write down who you’re buying for, and perhaps even organize the list that way.
2. Do your research
After you’re done your list-making, take a little while to do some research on what you want to buy. See where you can buy it cheapest, whether it’s online or in-stores. Several stores may sell the same products but their prices can vary, and it would be terrible to buy a product for $100 then walk into your next store and see it on sale for $80. It’s also a great idea to check out the holiday deals at the stores you plan to visit.
3. Create a holiday budget
It’s easy to splurge and spend every last dollar you have when it comes to holiday shopping. You’re provided with an opportunity to buy anything you want (within your price range) for anybody you want. Countless items lie in front of you and the only thing limiting you is the amount of money you have in your wallet or the balance in your bank account. One way to prevent yourself from spending your entire savings is to create a holiday budget. It’s easy to do: just take a look at your list, then at your research, and add up the prices (make sure to include taxes). That is your holiday budget. You may consider giving yourself a little buffer in case unforeseen expenses come up, but try to stick to this budget as strictly as possible.
Now that you have your budget, make sure you actually have that amount of money. If you do, that’s great – you’re set to go. If you don’t, try to find alternatives and maybe even find some quick ways to earn some extra cash.
4. Start early
Starting early is important, whether it be starting to shop earlier in the year or going to stores earlier in the day. There are usually wider varieties of items and more items in stock, the earlier you shop. Also, if you start your shopping right away, you don’t have to worry about the same crowds that you would around dinner time or into the evening. People frantically shopping on Christmas Eve are the ones you want to avoid.
5. Hit the stores on Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday have recently passed, it’s always a good idea to keep in the back of your head for next year. Black Friday is the day after the American Thanksgiving and is considered the first day of Christmas sales. Many stores make their prices down for the day, drawing in a large crowd. It’s like Boxing Day but before Christmas and probably not as cheap, but still very, very useful. The Monday after Black Friday is recognized as Cyber Monday, which essentially serves the same purpose as Black Friday only via online retailers.
6. Try some online shopping
Online shopping brings about a whole new world of products to choose from, and a plethora of stores that you can’t find in Canada. Not only do online stores often have deals, they are easy to find and you can browse multiple at once. They also don’t have any lineups and are quick and simple. Online shopping is convenient and an easy way to relax at home while getting all of your holiday shopping done.
7. Check out some smaller businesses
You will find that the majority of larger chain businesses all have the same or very similar products. If you’re looking to buy something a bit more unique or harder to find, finding some smaller, lesser known “indie” businesses could open up a world of opportunities for you. Often a lot of these shops sell things that are tailored specifically to their shops and sometimes even handmade by them, offering options for unique and special gifts. If you don’t feel like going out and you fancy online shopping you can check out Etsy for some unique ideas.
8. Keep yourself from impulse buying
Impulse buys can cost you a lot of money, especially around the holiday season when everything is on sale and the stocks in the stores are flourishing. If you follow your list and buy what you’ve written down and end up having money from your budget left over, then it’s alright to buy some more. However, if you haven’t even bought everything you’re absolutely positive you’d like to buy, you shouldn’t spend the money that you might need to spend that on something else unless you’re absolutely sure that this gift is necessary. It’s also important to keep in mind that you shouldn’t buy things for yourself when you’re holiday shopping, since the holidays are coming up and you just might end up getting that item as a gift.
9. DIY (Do It Yourself)
Do it yourself projects, more commonly known as “DIY,” is a rapidly growing trend. Not only is it (usually) easy, but it also provides endless opportunities for creativity, and it can be as cheap or expensive as you’d like. In addition, it also adds a personalized touch to your gift, and if you can’t find something you like in stores, you can make it. There are tons of DIY projects, ranging anywhere from foods, to furniture, to crafts, and basically anything you can imagine. One social platform that is fantastic for discovering DIY project ideas is Pinterest. You need an account to look at the “pins,” but sign-up is free.
10. Don’t forget about gift cards
If you just can’t find a satisfactory gift, or have absolutely no clue what to buy someone, or even save your shopping to the last minute (which you should never do), gift cards are always something you can look to. They are easy to obtain, and they have a very free range of uses. Instead of buying a subpar gift for someone, you can simply supply them with a gift card with whatever sum of money you wish, and they can buy their own gift. Most stores have some form of gift card, and if you don’t know what store to buy from, malls often have a gift card that will cover all stores within them. The movies and restaurants usually have them as well. There are endless opportunities with gift cards, and they are easy, affordable, and well-appreciated.
11. Look to the future
We all know that after Christmas Day comes Boxing Day. December 26th is the day on which stores drop their prices and the shopping frenzy commences. Shopping on Boxing Day is very helpful if you’re looking to get things cheap, but the crowds can be quite intimidating. However, if you’re willing to brave the post-holiday madness, you can certainly pick up some gifts for next year, and for a lot cheaper than you’ll probably ever find them again. It’s a great way to prepare yourself for next year, and you can even pick up some things for yourself while they’re cheap: you can hit two birds with one stone.
12. Enjoy yourself!
Don’t make holiday shopping a chore! Remind yourself that you’re shopping for the people you love most, and just image the joy they’ll feel when on Christmas Day they unwrap and receive your present! Christmas is a wonderful time all around for a large amount of reasons, but giving gifts is truly one of the best things about this season.