The holidays are fast approaching, and whether you need to pick up a couple of hostess gifts or shop for everyone on your Christmas list, preparing yourself ahead of time can remove a lot of the guesswork and help you avoid the shopping rush and the stress that accompanies it. Here are some of our best tips.
1. Set a budget and make a list. Deciding in advance what you are willing to spend on individual gifts will save you from making impulse buys that put you over your total budget. List out who you are shopping for and break down your total gift budget into what you can spend for each individual gift.
2. Do your research. Get an idea of your recipient's style and needs before you set out. Browsing their Pinboards, doing a quick search for their Amazon wish list, etcetera, will give you a good place to start without removing the element of surprise.
3. Start early. Sounds simple, but this is probably the biggest factor in making it a stress free process. Products are less likely to be sold out, and you will be less likely to overspend or just get something generic for the sake of not showing up empty handed.
4. Comparison shop and check for discounts. If you are shopping online this is easiest — compare prices between retailers and do a quick search for relevant coupon codes, which tend to be abundant this time of year. I also like to search sites like Etsy to see if I can find a handmade version of items like housewares or jewelry — you tend to get more value at a fair price.
5. Shop during off peak hours. If you have a flexible schedule or can get away for a little while, shopping in the morning and late afternoon on a weekday will help you avoid the added rush during peak hours.
6. Allow extra time for holiday shipping. Shopping online can feel like an easy thing to put off, but holiday shipping times can be slow, and rush shipping rates can be expensive. Shop early, and be sure to check the estimated shipping times before making a purchase.
7. Avoid the malls and shop local. There is nothing worse than circling the mall for a parking spot, only to have to elbow your way through the stores in order to spend the rest of your evening in line. Local boutiques are a great lower stress alternative if you aren't looking for a specific item, and you get to boost your local economy at the same time.
8. Get creative. Waited too long? You can purchase DIY printable gifts like calendars and recipe cards off of sites like Etsy in a pinch, put together a custom gift basket with items from your local specialty food store, or pot an easy care houseplant like a succulent in an interesting vessel.
(Image credits: Celeste Sunderland)