Thursday, December 03, 2015

Holiday Shopping with Less Stress

ShoppingI used to work retail, so maybe that's why I don't really like shopping.  Any time.  At this time of year I especially want to avoid stores at any cost and only go out if I absolutely need something.  You know I like to save money, but are any of those holiday sales actually worth braving the crowds?

For those of you with mile-long gift lists, the question is - Is it possible to still get something for everyone on your list, without actually having to brave the insanity of holiday shopping?  Nowadays the answer is a great big YES!   Here are some ways to get all of your holiday shopping done with as little stress as possible:
    Airport gift list
  • Shop online.  I know this is probably the most obvious one, but oh, what did we do before we had the Internet?  Not only can you shop at the obvious online retailers like Amazon and Rakuten (formerly, you can also order online from most of your favorite stores.  While you're shopping, be sure to check for extra savings, like extra savings with an online coupon code and cash back on your purchase, and you can get an even better deal than you would have if you'd gone to the store.  Most retailers will ship your order for free, whether to you or to your recipient, if your order is over a certain dollar amount, or you can order online and pick it up in the store.  A lot of stores have special parking for customers who order online, and all you'll have to do is run in and get your order.  An advantage to ordering from a physical store is that, should your recipient need to return or exchange the gift, they can do it right at their local store.  No messing with shipping it back and waiting.
  • Make something.  In my case I'd probably bake something.  My daughter Beth loves to crochet, and people love getting a handmade blanket, hat, or scarf.  The key is to use your talents and skills to give someone something they can't, or won't, actually make themselves.  If you're looking for inspiration, Pinterest is a great place to look, and if your gift recipient is also on Pinterest, check to see what he or she is pinning to get an idea of what they might like or want.  I personally pin lots of things I like but would never be able to make myself, and I have a friend who has made me several of them!  There are also sites like Etsy where you can buy handmade items online.  If you don't have the skills or time to make something yourself, you can still give a unique gift, and support the real people who make the things they sell.
  • Gift CardsBuy gift cards.  This may sound a bit impersonal, but as long as you know what restaurant your gift recipient likes to eat in or what store he shops at, you have a gift that is guaranteed to please, and you won't have to brave the crowded retail stores.  Right now many places are offering some special bonuses when you buy gift cards, so not only will you get a gift to give, you'll also get a little something for yourself.  Olive Garden and Steak & Shake are two restaurants that are giving an extra $5 or $10 to you when you buy a certain dollar amount in gift cards.  Our local grocery store sells many different gift cards, and they're giving 4x the fuel points on gift card purchases now, making it really easy to save extra money on gas when purchasing gifts.  There aren't a lot of people buying holiday gifts at the grocery store, so it's pretty safe.
Those are just a few ideas for surviving the holiday shopping season.  I'm sure you have some of your own, so feel free to share.  You might have just the suggestion someone is looking for.  Of course, if you love shopping and the crush of crowds, feel free to disregard all of this and Carry On!