It seems there are two kinds of Christmas shoppers: those who have everything picked out and purchased by Black Friday and wrapped under the impeccably-decorated tree by December first, and then there’s those who wait until the week before Christmas (or week of!) to get started. Usually I’m a serious planner and find myself in the former category. This year; with a child’s birthday party to throw, two family trips around the holidays, and a change to our family’s work schedule; I’m decidedly in the latter.
For those of you in that procrastination boat with me, let me assure you that you can still make it and even find some good bargains along the way! Here’s a few of the tips that I’ve found to help keep that boat afloat:
- Take inventory of what you have. If you’re like me, you do have a couple items you bought on clearance back in July that you set aside for presents and then promptly forgot about. Pull those back out and see who you have already bought for and who on your list remains.
- Be realistic about purchases. Do you have the funds to buy for everyone? Does your sister really want another holiday sweater? Would your mom enjoy a day out with you and a manicure more than “stuff”? In a culture and economy that tells us to buy more and more, is there a way to simplify and cut back your list of “necessary” purchases?
- Are you just crafty enough to make personalized gifts? A friend of mine carves decorative foam pumpkins to use the following fall, another crafts jewelry. I’m not nearly so handy, but for a $10 investment in plain ornaments, paint, and ribbon last year I was able to make hand-print ornaments for the grandparents. Pinterest is a great resource, but I just googled “handprint ornaments” and got ideas from there. For a minimal investment of funds and creativity, it’s a way to make something memorable.
- Online shopping is still an option, though you will likely have to pay for rush shipping unless the particular store has a special on that. If you shop online, make sure to use any coupons or rebates that are available. Personally, I don’t ever shop online without checking EBates, Groupon, Ibotta, and RetailMeNot.
- For the brave souls willing to shop locally and fight the week-of-Christmas crowds, deals seem to get better as the month progresses. Stores that have over-stocked want to move out their wares before the new season and will often discount steeply to get things moved. Check through mailings and newspaper inserts for sales or use an app such as Flip to help you find the sales near you.
- Have a flexible plan. So you know you want a new DVD for your little brother? Something tech for your dad? It’s good to have an idea of what you’d like to buy – that way you have direction and a general budget for your spending. From there, look to see what is available and on sale since selection may be slimmer near the end of the season.
- Have fun. Really, it’s what the season is about – being with family you care about, maybe relishing a few snow days or the holiday school break, enjoying the warmth of a sip of hot cider, basking in the glow of the Christmas tree lights. For most of us (at least for adults!) it’s really not so much about presents, so don’t get overly stressed about those details.
Finding the joy amidst the stress of the season has been harder this year for many – including myself. But it’s never too late to plan and to finish strong, however that looks for you and your holiday budget.