Dec 2, 2015

Christmas is gift shopping time!

The first week of December often marks the beginning of Christmas street decoration, holiday traffic jam and of course Christmas shopping!

And while I am considered an “expert” in picking gifts and offering creative, personal and personalized choices for all those who ask me for advice, up until last year, I considered Christmas shopping as a special burden: so much to get, so little time, excessive traffic and a limited budget!

This year, by the end of November, I was already almost done with my Christmas shopping list.  My pending gifts are under process and if I work hard enough, I will be done before the crazy flow of mid-December! A few years back, I used to take part of that flow. I once even finished my Christmas shopping at 4pm, a couple of hours before the mall closed its doors. But now, I maturely finish my shopping earlier, on a budget, and relax and enjoy Christmas carols and events for the rest of the month.

Here is how in six easy steps:

   1- Set a Gift List
   Setting-up your gift list should include each person you wish and/or should gift this Christmas, along with 3 gift options.  Brainstorming the gift ideas and probable options at home (while cooking dinner for instance) will reduce the time spent wandering around while shopping, not knowing what to pick and where to start.  When you want to get your mother a perfume, a handbag or a jacket for instance, there is no need to check the jewelry corner at the mall. It’s December, there is “people traffic” at the mall, and it drives everyone insane; just avoid it!
For more tips about how to pick the perfect gift or set your options list, check-out my previously published post “A basic guide to buying the “perfect” gift” 

   2- Set a Shopping Budget (and stick to it!)
There is no shame in setting a shopping budget and sticking to it. A shopping budget will in fact lower the stress of thinking, calculating and reviewing your bank account over 10 times in an hour. Work on the budget in parallel to the gift option list mentioned in number 1 above.

You’re now ready to go!

   3- Shop in individual stores (Oh yes, avoid shopping malls!)
In general, shopping malls are more expensive than individual stores. They are full of people wandering around to check the decoration. And above all, they are not customer-friendly.  Go to an individual store instead, pick up your list and see what the shop has to offer that fits the list. Pick a place that can fit most items of your list, and tell the helper your budget (oh yes, don’t be ashamed! Save yourself and the shop owner/helper some valuable time this Christmas!).  Once done, ask for a discount… you see, individual shops are often managed by owners who would be more than happy to offer you a discount especially when you are buying for more than one family member from their premises.
Now go put that saved money aside or buy a child in need a gift!

And to make the whole experience more enjoyable?

   4- Wrap your own gifts
I personally take pleasure in opening gifts that are not packed in the shops’ boxes or wrapping paper. It means that the person took time and put effort into wrapping my gift and making it more enjoyable for me to open. Plus opening a blue wrapping box or a yellow one gives space to one’s imagination to guess what’s inside.  Imagine opening a big shoe box wrapped in green paper and finding a watch inside. That’s a surprise no? and gifts are all about surprises!  But don’t forget to include the exchange voucher, just in case…

   5- Write gift cards
Yes, everyone will throw them with the wrapping paper after opening the gift but hey! That 5 seconds smile I get while reading “Merry Christmas auntie” is worth millions! If I feel it, everyone around me should feel it too!

   6- Relax and enjoy Christmas’ carols and events
By now you should be done. Drive out there in the traffic, search every Christmas event in town and attend it (because you have time!) and wander around shopping malls to check the holiday decorations, listen to amazing music and taste the latest gingerbread!

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