Remember when shopping was fun?
More than any other holiday activity, shopping for presents is the number-one cause of seasonal stress. The overwhelming crowds, the cash crunch, and the difficulty deciding on what to purchase are the usual suspects. Slice.ca would like to help you at this festive time of the year. Unfortunately, we cannot pick out the perfect prezzie for that hard-to-buy-for Aunt, but we can offer up some sanity-saving suggestions for a less-stressful holiday shop.
Making a List and Checking It Twice
Time to channel the old bearded guy in the red suit! If ever there was a time to be ultra organized, the holiday shopping season is it. Before you start bruising that bank balance, take a few moments to consider who you need to buy for. Include family members, close friends even acquaintances. Think of everyone you can and add them to your list.
Once the roll call has been established, the fun begins! For some friends and family, it’s incredibly easy to select a gift but don’t get hung up on the more difficult-to-buy-for relations. Planning is ideal but you still want to keep some spontaneity in your shopping experience. If you have to wing it for a few presents, so be it. Just remember a little planning at home will save you time, money, and your sanity once you’re store bound.
Budget: It’s Not Fun, It’s Necessary
The holidays are a time for generosity but not if it sends you into a spiral of debt. Gifting is supposed to make you feel joyful. Becoming bankrupt and living off Kraft Dinner for weeks is not part of the plan! Set a spending limit and stick to it. If you’re computer savvy, set up your gift list in Excel and estimate what you will be spending for each person. You can keep a current tally on what you’ve spent and how much cash you have remaining. Sure, financial calculations take all the glitter and excitement out of the big shop, but they’ll allow you peace of mind during the hectic run-up to the holidays, which in itself is priceless.
Start at Home
Much of your purchasing can be done from the comfort and privacy of your own home. Internet shopping is the best! You can shop while still clad in your pyjamas or during commercial breaks of your favourite television program. You can shop ANYTIME! And by far the best part, they’ll ship it to you too—and some places will even do the gift wrapping. Make a dent in your list without stepping outside and there will be fewer parcels to lug around the mall—a definite plus. Just be mindful of how much you’re charging on those credit cards.
Dress for Success
You’ve done everything that you can from home, now it’s time to hit the pavement. Dashing in and out of shops and malls takes plenty of effort, and the wrong attire can weigh you down and cause undue stress. Dress appropriately to be on top of your game. Comfortable footwear is a must, so please save the four-inch patent-leather stilettos for New Year’s Eve. Likewise, an outfit that doesn’t scratch or make you too warm is also essential.
Select Your Shopping Style
Be sure to stay true to your own personal shopping style. Some Slice gals prefer to make a date with girlfriends or family and hit the shops en masse. Mixing socializing with your holiday shop can make the experience that much more enjoyable. Plan a restful lunch stop at a favourite restaurant where you can catch up and compare purchases. Or, if you know that you’re better off flying solo, by all means don’t feel obligated to turn the day into a communal event. The key is to follow the plan that works best for you.
Pack Your Manners
Holiday shopping crowds are notorious for being rude and pushy. Now is not the time to add to the unseasonable vibe. Remember what your Mum taught you. Be courteous at all times, hold doors for fellow shoppers and, above all, keep your cool while waiting in line. After all, Santa knows when you’ve been naughty or nice.
Don’t Get It on Credit
Cash and debit cards are the way to spend this holiday season. Try to reserve credit buys for Internet shopping only. It’s so easy to lose track of what you’ve spent when exercising the plastic. Plus, you’ll be cursing the holidays for months afterwards when that flurry of bills starts to drift into your mailbox. Implementing cash or debit cards will help you maintain your budget and avoid the financial pitfalls that beset many.
Open Your Eyes and Ears
In all the shopping frenzy, be sure to pause and take a moment to enjoy the seasonal surroundings. Admire the beautiful decorations, listen to the jolly carollers, and make a donation to the Salvation Army or another worthy charity. In the frenetic bustle to get your checklist completed, it’s really important to remember what the season is actually about.
Done? Let’s Prep for Next Year
Now that you’ve made your list, checked it twice, and purchased a plenty, you’ve successfully manoeuvred this year’s holiday shop! Congratulations! Before you put your feet up for a well-deserved respite, be sure to save a copy of this important doc in your computer or tucked safely away in a drawer. As a result of all your prep this year, you’ll have an annual report of your shopping excursions that will form the base for next year’s buying. Come December 2011, you’ll be happy to see that you were so organized 11 months earlier. Happy Holidays, indeed!
Written by: Jackie Middleton