by Jennifer Worthington Lower
I know it’s only the beginning of November, but the holidays are sneaking up on us rapidly. Before we know it the turkey will be eaten and Black Friday will be here. I don’t know about you, but I definitely feel the pressure to get shopping at that point (just like the retailers want).
As the holidays get closer, three things happen to me as I panic:
1. I drag two little kids out into the shopping chaos.
2. The kids create their own brand of chaos and I lose focus.
3. I buy useless and overpriced gifts just for the sake of having something to give someone.
I really hate over spending and I pride myself on giving personalized practical gifts. Succumbing to the holiday rush causes me to make dumb decisions and leaves me feeling disappointed in myself. This year, I am ahead of the game and I want to share my strategy with you.
Step One: List Making
The first step to any successful and relatively stress free shopping trip is to make a list. I start with a list of all of the people that I will be giving to. This includes all family members, friends, coworkers, teachers/care givers and special people in our lives.
Then I may separate everyone into categories, if it applies. For example, all of the teachers/care givers will be getting the same thing. I won’t say what it is though – some of you may be reading ;P
Step Two: Brainstorm
Next, take a few minutes for each person and brainstorm. If they have actually mentioned what they want, this is easy. Your kids may have made you or Santa a list, or you know your husband is dying for an iPad (I know mine is). Otherwise, consider their hobbies and interests. Do they Garden or like to read? Do they like to receive gifts or do they like to shop for themselves? Some people just like gift cards. I say, if that’s what they really want, it just makes things easier for you!
Sometimes I take my list of people and go onto a department store website or flip through the catalogs in the paper. It just gives you an idea of what is out there and spawns your creativity.
Step Three: SHOP!
Because this my is actually my least favorite part of gift giving, I do it sparingly. I do a lot of shopping online. (Tip: if you don’t want to rack up charges on your credit card, get a cash card that you can load with money from your account. It keeps your spending in check and your account information off-line.) This time of year, free shipping is almost a given. Then I fill in the gaps at local stores. I also keep a look out for sales. Sometimes making a special trip is worth it.
Some of this may seem like common sense, but I am shocked at how many people just shop by the seat of their pants. Some people are great at the last minute thing and it doesn’t stress them out in the least (ahem, my brothers…) and more power to them! I’m not one of those people. If you are like me, I hope that my tips help you have a stress free ( as much as possible, anyway) holiday season!
Jen is a 20-something wife and mother of two under three living in Chester County. She and her husband were born and raised in the Philadelphia area, and with the exception of attending and graduating form Shippensburg University, they have no intentions of leaving. Jen spends her days working in an office and trying to find ways to spend more time at home with her family. To get more tips on running a balanced household, visit Jen at mamaZEN, Twitter and Facebook.