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Reduce Holiday Shopping Stress

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Updated November 07, 2013

Reduce Holiday Shopping Stress

Holiday shopping need not be stressful! Have a plan, know your budget, consider online shopping, and you can make it fun--and quick.

Photo from iStockPhoto.com
While most of us really enjoy the holiday season, it can bring significant amounts of stress. Let’s face it: between the holiday parties, the baking, the holiday cards (complete with pictures and newsy letters) and finding the perfect gifts for everyone, we place pretty heavy demands on ourselves. This year, you can make it a point to enjoy the holidays more by simplifying some of the work, while maintaining what makes the holidays special: the love.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Less Than Usual!

Here's How:

  1. Know Your Budget
    Much of the stress of the holiday season comes from feeling pressured to buy bigger and better gifts for those we love, even if this puts us in debt! While we may feel compelled to show how much we love people by showing how much we can spend, our loved ones would probably feel terrible if they knew we put ourselves in debt on their behalf. This year, determine what you can comfortably spend, make a budget, and stick with it. "Thoughtful" doesn’t have to mean "expensive".

  2. Make A List
    List all the people you'd like to buy gifts for, and divide your budget among them in whatever way makes sense to you. Then, next to their names, list what you’d like to get each person. You can use this as a checklist, so you’ll know who you’ve bought gifts for and who still needs a gift, and you’ll be less likely to spend too much on impulse buys, or accidentally buying more than one gift for the same person.

  3. Be Efficient
    Try to go to only a few stores. You can look down your list of items and see how many things you can find at the same store, and try to get all of your shopping done at one mall. If you can consolidate all of your shopping into one or two trips, that’s even better. While it’s fun to take long, leisurely days shopping and getting what strikes your fancy, this can add stress to holiday shopping, when you have so many purchases to make in such a limited amount of time. It’s simpler to enjoy the shopping while you’re doing it, get it out of the way, and enjoy doing other things once you’re done.

  4. The Earlier, The Better
    People sometimes postpone holiday shopping until the last minute. Don’t. If you shop earlier, you’ll have a better selection of gift ideas to choose from, you won’t get stuck in the last-minute rush at the malls and the post office, and you’ll be able to enjoy being done with your holiday responsibilities so you can just enjoy the season. Earlier is also better when you’re talking about what time of day to shop; shopping in the morning, if at all possible, tends to be a good way to avoid crowds, find displays in better order, and enjoy a less stressed atmosphere.

  5. Consider Shopping Online
    While there are some things many people aren’t comfortable buying online, there are many terrific holiday gifts to be found at your computer. Online shopping is a fast, simple, and efficient way to get the bulk of your shopping done at once. In addition to saving you the fights over parking spaces and the long waits in lines, in many cases you can have your gifts wrapped and delivered directly to your recipients, saving yourself the trouble of wrapping and the visit to the post office!

Tips:

  1. Buy duplicates. If you find a great gift at a great price, consider getting one for several people on your list, if it fits their tastes. This is a great way to save time and money.
  2. Include gift receipts. Ask for gift receipts at the register, and include them with your gifts when you wrap them. That way, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that if what you got doesn’t work for your recipient, they can easily exchange it.
  3. Get gift cards. If you really need things to be simple, gift cards and certificates are a great option. You can find gift cards for everything from movies to dinners to massages now, and they’re quick to buy and easy to send. They still offer sweet sentiments to your loved ones, buy make the shopping much simpler for you.
  4. Let the post office be your friend. Rather than lugging all of your gifts to the post office and standing in the long lines, you can now get them to come to you! Visit the USPS website to find out how easy it is to get a postal carrier to come to your door, pick up your packages, and deliver them for you.

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