Friday, November 14, 2008

Christmas shopping: In store or Online?

Christmas is almost here (can you believe it?) and it's the time where most of us go out in search of bargains for our lists of loved ones for the perfect Christmas present.

Since I am flying to Dallas to be with my family, I have done the majority of my shopping online so that the presents can be directly shipped to my mom and sister so that I don't have to pack them in my baggage; this is due majorly to the convenience it saves as well as the ridiculous baggage fee airlines are charging today. Every year I try to get everything done early, way before Christmas so that I don't have to rush out at the last minute for presents. I also haven't experienced a Black Friday in about 7 years or so since I lived in England for six and last year I was out in the desert camping with my hunny.

What is my stress-free holiday strategy?
  1. Keep your eyes open. Throughout the year if you see something that a family member would love, pick it up and store it in a closet with a designated "gift area" you know, like a cardboard box. This March at a street fair in Tucson I found an ichibana made by a local artisan for my sister-in-law. She loves flower arranging and got into ichibanas when she lived in Japan. Perfect gift for her and I get to support a local artist!
  2. Buy early. Don't wait until the last minute to buy gifts. Throughout October, November and December, designate a certain amount of money to be spent on Christmas gifts and spend only that. For one paycheck buy Mom and Dad's presents, the next buy your niece's and nephew's, etc. Waiting until the last minute just puts too much stress on you and your wallet.
  3. Find out what they want. If you have read my blog since the beginning, I'm a big proponent against clutter. I hate giving it and I hate receiving it. So I always ask around to see what each person wants. My brother has a running wish list on Amazon so I just go there when I need gift ideas. This way I get something for him that he wants but obviously hasn't taken the time to buy for himself. I call my Dad to see if Mom has been talking about something that she's be eyeing at a certain store. Why give a person something that's just going to end up at Goodwill or the next yard sale when you can give them a gift card to pick out something that they want?
  4. When in doubt, gift cards. My brother-in-law is difficult to buy for but he loves to buy suits, ties, and cuff links. I just asked my sister his favorite stores and I'm getting him a gift card so he can pick out some new clothes or help put a dent in a nice expensive suit he's been eyeing. Gift cards are something I think everyone enjoys receiving and it takes out the stress of finding that "perfect" gift.
  5. Have it shipped. Instead of dealing with hauling loads of presents with you in the car or airplane, just have the item shipped to a family member who can hold the present for you. This eliminates the stress of forgetting anything or packing too much in the car or luggage.
  6. And probably the most important...MAKE A LIST! Write down the name of each person for whom you are buying and to the side, the gift you want to give or have already bought. Either make a check mark next to the name or cross it out when that gift is bought so that you know that person is taken care of. There is nothing worse than buying too many gifts because there was a lack of organization on your part! Save money and stress by making a list and checking it twice! (Sorry, had to!)

I hope this helps with your holiday shopping! Remember, only 40 more shopping days left until Christmas!! Happy Holidays! :)

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