By Kelly Hodges
Ok, I’m not sure how this happened but it is already November, which means that December is right around the corner…and we all know what that means! Regardless of your religious and cultural background or belief, odds are that you will be exchanging a few presents in the months to come. Many people dread this time of year, as buying all those presents is just another thing to add to your already overloaded to-do list, not to mention the cost of it all. However, I challenge you to take on a different mindset this year. Holiday giving is an extraordinary opportunity to show those closest to you how much you love and appreciate them. But, this doesn’t mean buying gifts that are expensive and extravagant, it means giving gifts that you have put some thought and effort into. Moreover, try giving gifts that the recipient will truly use or cherish, instead of throwing in the re-gift pile for next year.
Sounds great right- but as usual, easier said than done. To help make this seemingly overwhelming process a bit more manageable I’ve broken it down into 4 easy steps…
1. Make a List. This is the key to the whole operation. Write down everyone you will be buying a gift for this year, from family and friends to letter carriers and secretaries. Next, write down the dollar amount you plan to spend on each person (roughly). This will give you an overview of how much you will spend before you even start shopping. If the total is more or less then you wanted (or can afford) then adjust accordingly. This process allows you to be in control of your holiday spending from the beginning, and will prevent you from passing out when your January credit card statement arrives. Next, take some time and give some real thought to what each person on your list would really like. This process will take some time up front, but it will save you from wandering aimlessly from store to store hoping that something will just jump out at you that will be perfect for granny.
2. Start Shopping Early. Right now time is on your side (this won’t be the case come December). And having created your list early, you can watch for specific sales and buy your items when they are least expensive. And with the internet, you can do all this surveillance from home. Let’s say the super-deluxe space ship Lego set that your nephew NEEDS is $50 regular price online at Toys R Us, Target, Amazon, etc. Check in on these sites periodically, and when one of them has it on sale for $40, buy it! Starting early and watching sales will save you extra money that can be used to buy another small gift or allocated toward another person on your list. Don’t forget to use online promo codes and cash back websites like Ebates to save even more money! (Check out my earlier posts The Promo Code: Use It or Lose It and How to EARN Money While Shopping Online.)
3. Don’t Wander the Mall. This is what steps 1 and 2 are trying to prevent. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you will end up buying junk. Aunt Betty does not need another scented candle nor does your dad need a reindeer tie. Enough said.
4. Ask for Help. Undoubtedly there will be a person or two on your list that, after careful thought and consideration, you honestly don’t know what to get them. Don’t be afraid to ask! Ask Uncle Larry what Aunt Betty might like, or the school secretary what your son’s teacher is into. When all else fails, go with a gift card. Choose their favorite store or restaurant, or if you can’t even figure out what those are, then you’re probably safe going with something like Barnes & Noble, Target, or Amazon. You won’t go over budget on a gift card purchase, and I can assure you that your teenage niece would rather have a gift card then the outfit you picked out for her!
Cheers to November and all the craziness that comes with it. I hope the tips above will assist you in getting much of your holiday shopping done by the time you carve up the Thanksgiving Turkey!
Any opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author, and do not in any way represent the views or opinions of her employer or any other person or entity.
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