I can remember the exact moment when Christmas shopping stopped being fun for me.
I was at a local mall, way too close to Christmas. I was exhausted and starving and sweltering, wearing my winter coat in the mall because I didn’t have a free hand to carry it. I had my three kids in tow, including a fussy, fidgety baby.
But I had one more gift to buy.
(There are so many things wrong with the above scenario that I don’t even know where to start. How did I let myself get into that mess?)
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This year, I want to reclaim the FUN of Christmas shopping. (And if it’s not always fun, I at least want to keep it palatable.) That comes down to 3 things:
1. Managing My Time.
2. Managing My Money.
3. Managing My Energy (aka Minimizing Stress of all kinds).
Those are the big 3: time, money, and stress. Let’s look at how to systematically eliminate these barriers so you can have a fun (or at least palatable) holiday shopping experience.
• Keep a running list of gift ideas. Here’s a snippet from mine:
• When you find a gift you like, buy it.
• If you’re a maximizer by nature, give yourself permission to NOT comparison shop.
• Ask people for gift ideas instead of spending hours searching for ideas online.
• Use a tool like Amazon Universal Wish List to make it easier on people shopping for you.
• Set a budget and stick to it. There are great resources available if you don’t want to make your own. Get Simple Mom’s free budget printable here, or use the worksheets in Jessica’s new (and excellent) ebook A Simpler Season.
• Sign up for Swagbucks and use their search engine to rack up free Amazon gift cards. it’s a little late for this year–you can probably accumulate $10-$20 worth of Amazon credit between now and Christmas, which isn’t much. But start now to start saving for next year.
• Consider shopping for Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals. (I don’t hit the stores on Black Friday–too stressful–but I do my kids’ annual jeans shopping on Thanksgiving morning in my pajamas.)
Managing Energy/Minimizing Stress
• Start now. Right now, you’ve got plenty of time.
• Plan, plan, plan. A good plan will keep your stress levels down and let you see potential problems well in advance–so you can make other arrangements.
• Carefully consider whether it’s worth it before embarking on DIY projects. Here’s a flow chart to jog your memory:
• Give yourself a fake deadline–like December 1.
• Don’t give “stuff.” Gifting meaningless stuff is a huge stressor for a lot of people (including me). Not sure what would be meaningful to someone on your list? Ask them.
• Focus on what’s really important. Gifts are symbols: they’re not the thing itself. Remembering why you’re shopping can help you keep a healthy perspective.
Identify your biggest barrier, and think about how you can systematically eliminate it. Make a plan. Today.
What trips you up the most: time, money, or stress?