The House is Shiny and you are sweating; the dinner table is laden and cookie jars are filled but you hardly feel like tasting a thing because you are dead tired; and you also need to drive to malls and get the shopping sorted out. Holidays can become stressful but like with everything else, there is hope! Check out some tips for stress-free shopping times.
Timing is Everything
Those who plan ahead and are always keeping an eye out for great gifts before the holiday shopping season comes say they are less stressed during the holiday season and have more time to enjoy the holiday festivities. But if you aren’t that prepared and end up shopping during the holiday season for gifts, it is best to go during times when it is less crowded. Retailers say that they have the fewest customers during the early morning hours and they are the most crowded during weekends and holidays.
Take a cue from Santa and make a list of all those people that you are planning on buying gifts for, and check them off as you get the gifts. Or if you are getting multiple gifts for some (i.e. your kids or spouse) make tally marks so that you can easily see how many gifts you have bought for each person.
Check your gift wrapping supplies and make sure you have what you need to wrap the gifts. If you don’t have everything you need, write out a list and pick up the supplies while looking for gifts. This will save you from having to go back to the store just to pick up some tape or more wrapping paper.
Consider Shopping online or by Mail
Many online companies and mail order companies will wrap the gifts, include a card and ship them directly to the receiver. This is an especially great option if you will be getting gifts for family or friends who are far away. Plus you won’t even have to leave the house or fight crowds.
Kids Coming Along?
Don’t have time to shop for the kids gifts without them with you? Consider asking a family member or even getting a babysitter to go with you. They can distract and keep the kids entertained until you’ve selected the presents and have them safely hidden in the grocery bags.
Did you know…
That Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) isn’t the busiest shopping day of the year? So what day gets that special title? The Saturday before Christmas; you’ll definitely want to avoid shopping on that day if you would like to miss the crowds.
If you are in a rush you often feel pressured to make a purchase that you may later regret. Avoid the stress of having to return an unwanted gift later by stepping back and taking a little bit of time to think about the gift. If you need to ask the salesperson to put it on hold and go do something else for a little bit, then come back and if you still want the item than it is probably a good choice.
Make sure to only buy from stores that have a refund or exchange policy. Keep receipts for all gift purchases in an envelope so that you will know where they are if you need to take an item back. Ask for gift receipts for items and include the receipt with the gift especially if it is clothing that might not fit.
Most stores have multiple cash registers in different parts of the store and will allow you to ring up any items from the store at these registers. If the lines up front are incredibly long, swing by the photo counter, electronics counter, jewelry counter or other department counters to have your items rung up. This will often save you a lot of time and stress.
And lastly, shopping can become a much better experience if you squeeze in little coffee and snack breaks to keep your energy levels high at all times.
This article first appeared in the Celebrating Christmas PDF Magazine 2007 issue.