The holiday shopping season is officially upon us, and that means it’s now crunch time for gift-related shopping. It’s important to remember the true reason for the holidays, such as coming together with your family, but gift giving is part of the tradition. Thoughtful gift giving allows us to celebrate with each other, have fun, and show our loved ones how well we know them, and how much we care.
The tradition of holiday gift giving helps bring out the magic of the holidays. We all can be pulled into the holiday spirit as we witness the happiness in a child’s eye or grandmother’s smile as they open their gifts!
Whether you have a small or extremely large family, it is important to stay organized with the holiday shopping process, so you are all set and ready to go when the holiday officially arrives.
Below are some helpful tips for an organized and much less stressful holiday shopping experience this year:
1. Write a List of Gift Ideas and Check it Twice
Lists are one of the best ways to stay organized this holiday season. This may sound like a simple task, but it will help you tremendously. So grab a pen and paper, write down every person’s name you’re buying a gift for, and list out a bunch of ideas for what gifts you might get them. Are you also getting a gift for their pet, or their baby? If so, write down these names as well. Then you can start brainstorming before you hit the stores.
Christina Giaquinto, a professional organizer who works closely with Modular Closets (DIY customizable closet units that organize any space in your home) says,
“Gift-giving lists get your brain flowing with ideas. Trust me, the hardest part is figuring out what to get people, so if you write a list of possible options you are off to a great start. Lists will always be helpful because they simplify and organize your thoughts so you can get more accomplished.
Even better, I recommend creating your gift list in a Google Spreadsheet or Google Document rather than keeping it in a Word Document or writing it down on a piece of paper. This is because you can easily download the Google Spreadsheet or Google Document app on your smartphone and update your list while on the go, when you’re out holiday shopping! If you see a great gift idea in a store window while walking to work, get a suggestion from a colleague, or have a random burst of clarity on which present to get someone, you can then easily adjust your shopping list on your phone.”
2. Organize a Holiday Shopping Budget
Giving gifts can get out of hand when it comes to your wallet, so do not feel pressured to give more than you can. Set a strict budget for the holiday shopping season and stick to it. Trust me, when your credit card statement comes in January, you will be glad you did. It is important to set a definitive dollar amount to stay under, otherwise you will have no threshold you know you cannot surpass (which leads to overspending). To stay under budget, search for online promo codes and special discounts for social media followers that you can use when buying gifts.
Nathan Liao, budget expert (and founder of the CMA Exam Academy Certified Management Accountant exam review program) advises,
“To save money during the holiday shopping season, use a cloud-based spreadsheet platform to list out gift-related and holiday-related expenses. The first step to take in setting a strict holiday budget is writing down every single one of your essential grocery expenses. These include the cost of dessert ingredients, wrapping paper, a ham you plan to bake, etc. Yes, you may be thinking that you could just make a mental list of all of the expenses and then select a general spending threshold to not go over, but it can be so easy to forget smaller grocery items (like the cost of a speciality seasoning you need). Taking the time to list out every single essential expense will help you select the best holiday shopping budget possible.”
Similar to writing your list of people you’re shopping for in a Google Doc, it will also be wise to use a cloud-based spreadsheet platform like Google Sheets to list out these holiday expenses. This way, if you ever need to add on a new expense or remove one, you can easily do that on your phone while on the go. Or, if you spend more on some groceries, you can easily adjust the budget for the rest of the groceries on your phone. You can track your spending while you’re on the move.
3. Set Your Online Shopping Deadline Now
You should never rush to the mall several hours before a holiday soiree to try to find a gift for the party host.
Professional organizer Christina GiaquintoI advises, “I strongly suggest ordering anything online by the first week of December. There will be some stores that guarantee holiday delivery later, but many stores require you to order by the first week of December. You do not want to take the chance of not getting your gift on time, and you do not want to have to pay extra shipping charges. Always check each item’s website to see if they guarantee delivery, and what date you need to order by.”
Another tip is to leave room for error or delays. For example, if the online store estimates delivery by December 5th, you should assume it could be as late as December 15th, because post office and delivery delays during the busy holiday season are incredibly common.
4. Put Love and Thought into Each Gift
Christina GiaquintoI wisely points out, “If you stay organized and start the holiday shopping process well before your deadline, you will have the luxury of being able to put love and thought into each gift you give!”
Being organized and starting now (in November) gives you the extra time you need to find truly great gifts for everyone, and that extra time also reduces holiday shopping stress.
Too often, people scramble at the last minute to shop for the holidays — gifts they were planning to buy then go out of stock or won’t be delivered on time, so they are left with having to try their luck at the local department store (or buying random gifts). By staying organized, you have the ability to truly put a lot of thought into each gift so your loved ones know how much you care. You will have the time to get gifts monogrammed and more — it really does make a difference!
You might even get inspired by thoughtfully reading some gift guides that are specific to the person you’re shopping for.
For example, if you know your cousin is a minimalist, check out this gift guide for minimalists.
5. Wrap As You Shop
If you leave all the gift wrapping for the night before your holiday gathering, you will end up doing a stressful and rushed job. That said, wrap each gift as you buy it, either by using the store’s gift-wrapping station, or wrapping it as soon as you get home.
Christina GiaquintoI recommends, “By doing a little bit of gift wrapping at a time, you will not be stressed toward the end of December when you have a giant pile of presents to wrap. As soon as you buy a gift, come home and set aside a couple of minutes to wrap it. If you love wrapping gifts (many people find this relaxing and joyful), pick a specific day in the calendar to sit down, listen to some holiday music, and wrap away as you sing along to your favorite holiday songs. By having a date in your planner, it takes away the stressfulness of days going by and having to wrap at the last minute.”
Also, have fun with the wrapping! Put love and happiness into each gift and set the intention that the person receiving it will be filled with joy. You can make each gift extra special by writing a thoughtful card about your favorite memories with the recipient, or write why this particular gift made you think of them, add a festive bow, or tape a candy cane to the box. These small-but-impactful extra touches will really make your gift extra meaningful.
The holiday shopping season can be a hectic, stressful and overwhelming time, but you can keep some stress and anxiety at bay by preparing now. Have an organized and stress-free shopping experience by writing out your list now, setting a strict budget, designating an online shopping deadline, putting extra love into each gift, and wrapping each present as you go. Following these tips will help make this holiday shopping season feel smooth and seamless.