Walk into one of the major department stores today and you’re likely to already see holiday décor. The winter holiday season comes earlier and earlier every year. Our favorite festive movies start popping up on network channels, and commercials pitch the latest toys, play beloved carols, and entice us with big seasonal gift sales long before we even sit down for our turkey dinners.
The only problem is that when the holidays sneak up on us, they also sneak up on our time, our wallets and quite frankly, our sanity. We plan so much of our lives, so why not strategize the unusually large amount of shopping we have to do this time of year? Don’t let Santa be the only one making a list and checking it twice. Not to incite panic, but Hanukkah and Christmas are just around the corner. Here’s how to get in and out fast—and make sure everyone gets what they want on the special days.
1. Make a list of your recipients.
Lay out by priority all the people you have to buy gifts for, then really sit down and think about what you’d like to get each person. Brainstorming thoughtful gift ideas helps simplify shopping, and, even better, prevents over-buying.
2. Create a budget.
It’s likely that you spend more on kids than you do on older relatives. For example, the adults in our family traditionally give one another something sentimental like a lovely ornament or piece of holiday décor, whereas the kids receive a more substantial gift. Lay out your intended budget and what price range you’d like to stick to for each person. This way you have a ballpark idea of what you’re potentially spending on everyone this season before it becomes a shock on your credit card statement.
3. Assign a feasible timeline.
Speaking of your credit card statement, if you can plan ahead to use cash for your gift purchases, then you can avoid paying interest on any of your holiday gifts, (unless of course you intend on paying the bill within 30 days). How do you go about setting up a timeline? In a perfect scenario, you would plan to buy two gifts a week from now until Christmas and Hanukkah, totaling sixteen people on your list. If you have more than sixteen lucky recipients in your life, start out with more and work your number of gifts per week down before the final stretch. There’s really no science behind this; it’s just something I like to do to ensure I have enough time for shipping on my online purchases, and to prevent having a psychotic break-down in the middle of the mall. Whatever timeline works best for you, your wallet, and your sanity, go with it. And if you’re one of those daredevils who goes out on Black Friday and bangs out all your holiday shopping, then more power to you.
Photo Credit: Julia Sudnitskaya/Shutterstock