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Holiday shopping isn’t easy. From September onwards we are assailed by advertising and media images of perfect families with designer Christmas trees, gifts spilling out from under the pine boughs. It’s easy to be lured into buying things you really can’t afford as well as give you nightmares as you dread the arrival of your January bills. It doesn’t have to be this way. My holiday shopping tips can make the whole experience easier and less time consuming.
First Step – Abandon Any Unrealistic Expectations
First of all we need to clear something up. Those Hallmark Holidays, the chocolate box advertisements, the glossy ads in Vogue and other magazines? They are SO not real. Manufactured in the brains of a marketing executives, they are designed purely to make you buy things. I’ve never met anyone – from any walk of life – who has that kind of Christmas. It’s time to set ourselves free from trying to duplicate something that isn’t real in the first place.
There’s no one size fits all solution to holiday shopping. Pick and choose from my holiday shopping tips to find the ones that appeal to you!
Make a list of people you need to buy gifts for. This includes gifts/tips for those who provide a service to you as well as any holiday birthdays. Make another list of events you need to buy for, to include items such as clothes and shoes for social occasions for all members of the family as well as hostess gifts for any dinners/parties you may be attending.
Be realistic about your budget
Gifts don’t have to be extravagant to be meaningful. The last thing I want is someone buying a gift for me they can’t afford. I think most people feel the same way. Think about ways you can be creative instead – homemade treats make wonderful gifts that are always well received. If you are pressed for time or inspiration, visit Christmas craft fairs for inexpensive handcrafted gifts and ornaments that make beautiful presents.
Shop online as much as possible
Online shopping is a lifesaver. You don’t have to carry heavy parcels or fight the crowds, and most companies will wrap and ship your gift directly to the recipient – a boon if you live a long way from friends and family. I’ve been really impressed with dotcomgiftshop. Earlier this year dotcomgiftshop sent me a beautiful apron and a voucher for £30 off any order. I had fun visiting their website. They have so many lovely ideas for gifts – in fact I ended up ordering some things for myself as well. The prices were really reasonable too. My order arrived with a couple of days and it was packaged really well. I was very pleased with the quality of the products I received. I especially loved the vintage Christmas baubles I purchased. I will definitely be using dotcomgiftshop all year round for gift shopping.
Give the same gift to more than one person
One year, I found some gorgeous Bobbi Brown makeup pallets that would suit just about anyone. Several women on my gift list were delighted to receive them. I also make it a habit to find one really nice mid-price hamper containing tea, cookies and treats that will suit several others on my list. Buying in multiples can be cheaper and if you order online and have things delivered, it’s stress free too!
Shop in reverse
One of my friend’s top holiday shopping tips is to ‘shop in reverse’. Instead of matching gifts to people, she matches people to gifts. Using online shopping sites she knows and trusts, my friend peruses all the available gifts making a note of people who might like to receive them, ticking the recipients off her gift list as she goes. She then places one bulk order – often ordering multiples of the same thing as I suggested above. This lady completes her holiday shopping in just a few hours, within her budget, and she is known for giving the most wonderful gifts.
Take advantage of free in store gift wrapping
Many cosmetic counters and speciality stores offer free gift wrapping. I almost always ask – the worse thing they can do is say no! Just be sure to write your gift tags on the spot to avoid confusion.
Shop for the holidays all year round
From this point on, if you see something that would make a great gift for someone – be it a holiday or birthday gift – buy it on the spot. If it doesn’t fit into your budget at the time make a note of where it is and as soon as you can purchase it do so. I keep a gift drawer containing presents labelled with the recipients names and occasions. This is great way to spread the cost of holiday and other gift shopping. If you are feeling super organised you can wrap the presents in advance too. Just be sure to label them and keep them somewhere safe.
Holiday Shopping Tips – Gift Ideas
Give an experience
Afternoon tea, a spa treatment, restaurant gift certificates and travel or activity experiences can all make welcome gifts. Recently my family and I had the opportunity to try indoor sky diving with iFly. Check out this video of me ‘flying’! Our friend and her daughters came along as five of us could fly on our family experience. One of my friend’s daughters was a bit scared but the instructor did his best to reassure her and she did ‘fly’ twice. The other took to the experience like a duck to water and absolutely loved it. You can see her in the photograph above. In fact, I gave her my second go as I did find it challenging to stay in the position you need to to ‘fly’ effectively as I have issues with my shoulders, neck and back. But it was an amazing experience and we all really enjoyed it.
Give flowers and plants
A pretty flower arrangement or planted basket makes a wonderful gift any time of the year, but especially at Christmas. Get in touch with your local florist for great ideas. If you live in Berkshire, I highly recommend the wonderful Green Parlour in Pangbourne.
Give to a charity on the gift recipient’s behalf
The perfect gift for the person who has everything, a donation to charity in their name can be just the thing. Many charities, like World Vision and Water Aid offer schemes where you can receive a small gift package to commemorate the gift for the person to unwrap. Some charities also sell gifts. I particularly like the gifts on offer at the Poppy Shop UK and The National Trust. For more charity gift ideas, check out this article by The Telegraph’s Wendy Douglas.
Buy a couple of emergency cards or gifts
Every year I choose a few random gifts to have on hand ‘just in case’. Last year I had two really nice sets of cheese knives tucked away along with a couple of bottles of wine and champagne in gift boxes. I also keep spare boxes of chocolates and a couple of gift cards on hand. Basically, there is something for everyone. If don’t use them all at Christmas, they will come in handy another time.
Giving is supposed to make you feel good too, so use my simple holiday shopping tips to transform holiday shopping from something stressful into a real pleasure. Happy Holidays!