Tips for Christmas Shopping and Staying Sane

Christmas Day is drawing closer and ’tis the Season for giving. This may seem to be a late post but there are still seven days until Christmas. There are many online articles giving advice on how to save money on quality Christmas presents, as well as which gifts are inappropriate. This is great unless you’ve already made your list, checked it twice, ditching the naughty and already shopped for the nice. Even so, here are a few Christmas shopping tips that can prepare you for next year:


1) Make lists and keep them safe:
If you don’t have a list of gifts and their recipients, then you should make one and keep a back-up copy somewhere like on your computer, Smartphone or planner. Not only will the list help you keep your head straight, it will help you plan for next year. You don’t want to make the mistake of giving someone the same gift two years in a row or more.


Check it twice, thrice, whatever!

2) Know your recipients:
When your Christmas gift list is long, it’s easy to buy the same thing for several people. However, there are some who wouldn’t appreciate stemware, artwork, leather-bound novels, floral arrangements or candy among others. Why spend money to buy someone a present you know they won’t like? That sounds like you’re shopping for resentment.


You can’t always hide disgust

3) Re-gifting Rules:
With tighter budgets than ever before, there will be the temptation to re-gift. This is no sin and sometimes you get beautiful presents that simply aren’t your taste. For example, decorative items like vases, jewelry, stuffed animals, books and keepsakes all make lovely gifts. The keys are to:

  1. Remember what you got from whom. There is nothing worse than getting a gift from someone to discover that you gave it to them in the first place. No explanation will repair the damage to that relationship – ever!
  2. If the gift is ugly, tacky or damaged, then toss it. Don’t perpetuate the cycle of horrid gifting by passing the refuse onto somebody else. Especially if it’s someone you claim to love and respect. Also, fight the temptation to re-gift it back to them. They insulted you, you will insult them and everybody’s angry. Will that resolve anything? Just think twice about how much you spend on their future presents, if any.

Pretty but not for everybody


4) Mom and Pop Stores:
I love to patronize little establishments whether it’s for meals or shopping. It’s in these places you not only find unique gift items but sometimes at bargain prices too. One year I knocked off three-quarters of my Christmas shopping in one tiny, semi-rural store for only $300.00. Each gift was unique and their recipients were curious as to how I procured them. That’s the kind of reaction you want.

5) Online, online, online!
For years, I’ve bought presents via the internet. Many vendors have options to gift-wrap and ship to any location worldwide. Here are some that I’ve used with little or no problems:

  1. Amazon: The Mac Daddy of online shopping is as reliable as ever but be sure to note if items are coming from another vendor via their marketplace. Just in case they need to be returned. Also, their gift-wrapping option is not impressive. The paper is flimsy and unattractive. Also, the wrapping is rather sloppy considering that it’s a service you’re paying for. Dare I say, not wrapping is better.
  2. Christian Book Distributors: Another site I’ve patronized for years for books, Bible covers and accessories, music, mugs as well as high quality keepsakes. If you have a Christian on your list and want to give them something related to their faith, this is where you’ll find it. However, think carefully before you buy. Just because your friend loves Jesus doesn’t mean you can give them just anything with His name on it. For example a Kutless fan may not fully appreciate a CD of classic hymns.
  3. Novica: I discovered this site years ago by happenstance. It allows you to buy unique pieces of jewelry, furniture, sculptures, clothing, paintings, etc. from artists all over the world. Your purchases are usually sent in quality wrapping or storage boxes that are just as beautiful as their contents. It’s not cheap but if you want to knock somebody’s socks off, this is a way to go. What you see is what you get and you’re helping the artist continue their craft.
  4. Oriental Trading: Now be forewarned, what you see is not always what you get. I’ve had good experiences with them for little token gifts like key chains but not for stuffed animals. If you need to buy a large quantity on the cheap, then you may want to give them a try.

6) Greeting cards:
My friends know how much I love Hallmark e-cards but there’s something special about receiving a card via snail mail. I love sending them too and always allocate part of my budget for quality cards (usually Hallmark) and international postage. Not everyone appreciates heartfelt or humorous sentiments instead of a present. However it’s better to send a beautiful card or handwritten letter than an impersonal gift.


You’d think I have shares in Hallmark

7) After Christmas sales:
There’ll be no better time to shop for next Christmas than just after this Christmas. Megastores and specialty shops alike will be frantically offloading merchandise to prepare for spring. Potential gift items are hugely discounted and yes, refer to your list. Sometimes you’ll make such a killing that even birthday gifts could be purchased as well. Imagine starting the New Year with almost all your shopping done and dollars saved!


Everybody doesn’t love gadgets?

8) Keep your receipts:
Hold on to your receipts because you never know when you may have to return something. After the holidays, stores will be swamped by folks making returns. You don’t need the hassle and bad karma of making the process more tedious than necessary.


Even dogs hate crappy gifts

Preparation is the key to a stress-free gifting season. Also, having a shopping buddy is good because it never hurts to have a credible, second opinion. I love shopping with my Mom and sister. They’re not just fashionable women but expert bargain hunters with a discerning eye for quality. I have no problem going solo but it’s always fun to share the joy of giving. That brings me to the most important tip:

 9) Giving should be fun. The whole process of finding a present to bless your loved ones, wrapping, delivering and watching their joy – is supposed to be good for you to. When we give cheerfully, we are blessed even if we don’t get a gift in return. Oprah calls it Joy Rising. Isn’t that the point?