If you are like me, and quite frankly most folks, you probably haven’t even started your holiday gift-buying yet. Every year I swear to start shopping at least earlier, but it just never happens. I’m pretty sure that if I did shop early, the eventuality would be that I would just end up buying twice as much. The reality is that if you wait until the holiday season is here (and guess what, it’s here folks…) to shop then you will have to deal with the perils that come with it. Here are a few tips to help you navigate through the holiday shopping chaos.
Create a Reasonable Budget. Yes, it is the holiday season, and who really wants to think about budgeting? Creating a realistic financial game plan for your shopping, however, is going to save you a lot of unnecessary pain in January. Do whatever you can to avoid unnecessary credit card charges. The holidays don’t last forever and sometimes the realities that come after the fun is all over can be very painful. A thoughtful and realistic budget will help alleviate a lot of the post-holiday blues.
Make A List. Hey, Santa has been doing this for years--and so should you. Write down each person you need to buy a gift for and include ideas for items they might like as a gift. If your list if it seems financially unmanageable, consider discussing the possibility of drawing names or doing a Secret Santa instead of buying gifts for each person on your list.
Do Your Research. Knowing specifically what you are shopping for will save you a lot of time and frustration. Doing online research in advance will help you be able to buy what you want without pressure or confusion while standing around in a crowded store. Besides, sometimes finding knowledgeable help to assist you in a busy store is like finding the Holy Grail. It’s far better to know what you want before you head out--and by all means, have a plan B in case your first idea turns out to be a giant fail.
Take Advantage of Cyber Monday. Do you hear angels singing? Seriously, Cyber-Monday may be the best thing to happen to store-weary shoppers. Sitting in front of your computer and shopping the easy way can make your life a lot easier. Most retailers will be offering special promotions, sales and discounts just for the occasion, so fire up that computer and after a few clicks; your shopping to-do list may disappear. Online shoppers are less likely to be tempted by impulse buys, so if you are trying to stick to your list, online shopping is the way to go. Many websites offer free or discounted gift-wrapping, which may save you even more time. Look for “free shipping,” offers on your favorite sites.
Be Prepared. There are some very simple things that every shopper should do to make their holiday shopping day a roaring success. Get to the stores early before they are overly crowded. Wear comfy shoes. Make sure you are well fed and bring a water bottle to stay hydrated. (No one said shopping wasn’t hard work!) Bring a backpack or a large shopping bag to keep your purchases contained safely.
Put On Your Happy Face. Knowing what you are getting yourself into is half the battle. Decide in advance that in spite of crowds, rude people, crying children, etc. that you are going to attempt to maintain a cheerful disposition during your shopping adventure. Trust me, a good attitude will go a long way, even if it’s not always the easiest thing to create.
Expect The Worst. If you expect to be disappointed on some level, you won’t be upset if this becomes your reality. Popular items sell out, and fellow shoppers are tired and cranky and there’s never a place to park when you need one. Try to keep your perspective positive in spite of all the potential caveats involved with shopping. After all, Christmas is not about the gifts as much as it should be about sharing good will to all those around us.Happy Shopping from Your Friends at Halloween Express!