Thursday, October 14, 2010

How to Not Lose it During the Holidays!

"That shirt would look fabulous on Mary Sue!"  "Little Timmy will absolutely love that remote-controlled train set!"  "How can I pass up a deal like this?  I'll find someone who could use this!"  Do these exclamations come out of your mouth when holiday shopping?  I'm guilty as charged.  I am a sucker for a great deal, and often find myself struggling to pass up a deal, therefore, I end up with a ton of stuff that is useless.  Not this year.  This year I am going to defeat the monster that lies behind the thrill of holiday spending.  Here's my plan of attack:

1)  Make 3 Lists for Recipients.  That's right - 3.  My first list contains the people who will get a present from the husband and I, no matter what.  Our parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews are on this list.  My second list is who I would like to buy for.  This list contains the names of friends and their children.  I refer to this list if we agree to do an exchange.  Otherwise, I don't buy for the adults, just the kids.  This list is kept separately so that I don't buy for them in my first round of shopping.  The final list is a bit more difficult.  This is my list of who not to gift.  I only make this list because I find myself shopping and thinking "Gina's mom would love this cookbook" or "The boy in the nursery at church would love this stuffed animal."  This list doesn't contain names, but groups of people (kids at church, friend's parents, etc).  This list is a reminder that a Christmas card can be sent to these folks and a gift is not necessary.

2)  Get Ideas - and Write Them Down!  In my notebook, I have my three lists of recipients (or non-recipients in some cases), then a list of ideas for each person on my first list.  I try to write things down throughout the year as they are mentioned, that way I can spread my spending (see bullet #4).  I also won't find myself in panic mode trying to locate the one item that served as "gift ideaS". 

3)  Write Down What You Buy.  I'm sensing a theme here.  Write everything down.  In addition to my first two lists - I keep a running list of what I purchase and who it is intended for.  This allows me to keep my shopping focused and I won't accidentally purchase more than I need or duplicates.

4)  Spread the Spending!  Instead of waiting until all of the hot toys of the season come out, start shopping as early as possible.  I start my Christmas shopping the day after Christmas.  That's right.  I made my first Christmas 2010 purchase on December 26, 2009.  There are great deals to be had if you can shop in advance.  Granted, I knew my sister-in-law was pregnant and the baby would be about 6 months at Christmas, so it was easy to snag some cute winter clothes.  Watch for sales and opportunities to use e-bates!  This will save you a lot of stress and anxiety when spreading $500 over 20 people.

5)  Budget.  I struggled with putting budget after spreading the spend, but I wanted to make a point.  The earlier you shop, the easier it is to stay on budget.  Each year, the husband and I determine the appropriate amount to spend per person on Christmas.  This may lead to my mom getting one big gift and my dad getting three smaller gifts, but each person receives the same "value" in actual spend.  Starting next year (you know, 12/26/10), we plan to set aside cash at every paycheck so I shop only with cash (or credit card for online purchases).

6)  Compare Online and In-Store!  I am a Nervous Nelly when it comes to online shopping for two reasons.  One - I very easily get carried away when not having to lug items through a store physically.  Two - I am terrified of having my identity stolen yet again.  So, here is what I plan to do while finishing up my holiday shopping:  look online for the actual gifts, compare the price online to the price in-store, go with the better deal.  A lot of companies will now waive the shipping fee if you have it delivered to one of their locations.  This is a great way to take advantage of a lower online price and not have to pay for shipping.  If the deal is better in the store, I'll head that way.  If not, go online baby!

So there is my plan.  What is your holiday shopping plan?

1 comment:

  1. Good tips, I do the exact same thing. Have you already planned what you are going to buy? I know I have. I'm getting a gift card from, some clothes, toys for the kids, and some books.