As parents, shopping for the holidays has a tendency to take some of the fun out of what should be a joyous and magical time of year. Our time off should be spent at home with our family– perhaps baking seasonal desserts or cuddled watching our favorite holiday film. Getting ahead of the shopping gives us time to plan a budget, make a list, find meaningful gifts, and even shop online to find deals and avoid rush delivery fees. Use the tips below as a guide for all of your pre-holiday needs, and hopefully you’ll find yourself spending more time with your loved ones, and less time in stores christmas shopping.
Plan a Budget
Before any shopping can be done, you should sit down and assess your finances to see what is even possible. There are many things to consider at this time of year, and you’ll need to get into the nitty-gritty. How many more times will you be paid during the available shopping time? You may need to pace the gift-buying. What other expenses will you incur at this time of the year? If you usually host a holiday gathering, factor whatever you plan to purchase into the budget.
It is helpful to write these things down, or create a spreadsheet, to help keep this information organised and easy to refer back to. Whichever way you decide to keep track, it’s helpful to have an idea of what you’ll have to spend each month so you don’t overextend yourself. Calculate your regular living costs: how much you pay in rent, utilities, subscriptions/memberships, commuting expenses, loans, etc. These bills need to be deducted from your monthly estimated income. It should be a bit easier now to add up how much money you have left over each month to put towards holiday shopping. Once you have outlined your fiscal affairs for the duration of the season, you can start to get ideas for where you’ll need to be shopping. From Poundland to Amazon, there are many options at our disposal.
Compile a List of Recipients
Do the best you can to gather a list of people you intend to give a gift to. Every year, without fail, someone is forgotten and you may find yourself rushing to buy a last minute gift card. Though gift cards can sometimes make a great gift, if you’re looking to save some money you’ll most likely be able to find a more personalised gift for less. Try to make your recipient list as exhaustive as possible. What family do you need to shop for? Are you exchanging with your parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, or in-laws? How many children do you have of your own?
You may even want to consider asking around to find out if anyone is interested in doing secret santa or other gift-exchanging games that can really reduce the costs for the holidays. Don’t be afraid to offer organizing an exchange yourself, as there are websites that make it easy to arrange the name-drawing. Doing a secret santa could help you cross a lot of names off your list.
Other people you might be gifting for include friends, co-workers, and if you have school-aged children, their teachers. Having an idea of the number of people you will be shopping for also allows you to estimate how much you can allocate to each person, so be sure to check your list, and check it twice.
Find Meaningful Gifts
Finding meaningful gifts can be difficult depending on the relationship. You may not always be close with the people you’re shopping for, so this doesn’t have to mean there is a big story or meaning behind the present. Sometimes it’s just about anticipating a need. For instance, your child’s teacher may enjoy something related to caffeine or perhaps a treat to help him or her get through their day, sometimes the simplest gifts are the most meaningful in the long run. Lego key rings can be a real hit!
When gifting to small children, you may want to check in with their parents. There is a movement among some to shift away from material things and get the kids something they can experience. This could mean planning an outing, like tickets for a day at the zoo or a local aquarium. Ifyou are short on money during the holidays, investing in an experience could be a helpful way of delaying the actual expense until another time of year when you aren’t so financially stretched.
On the other hand, if you want to get children something tangible to open up, we are lucky to have a variety of different options these days. There are so many different kinds of things made for kids now. It’s important to always consider how old they are first, as the toys they liked last year are probably not cool enough this year, or developmentally, they have outgrown them. Do you know a little one that has really taken to reading in primary school? Try a book specially made just for them to really pique their interest.
Teens & Young Adults
This age group may seem difficult– and not just when it comes time to shopping for them. For the most part it’s hard to find a way to relate to teens and young adults, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve been their age. However, if you do your research, it won’t be hard to get them something they’ll really love.
Kids are usually transparent all year long about the various things they’d like us to buy them and this time of year, with all of the sales and coupons, is just the time to get it for them. Maybe your daughter or niece has designer label taste. With all this extra time we’ve given ourselves to shop, we’ll be able to test out all of our savings options. Whether you shop the sales and cut out coupons, or you take a less traditional shopping route and try thrifting some of your gifts, it’s important to be aware of the ways you can save. Try perusing local thrift shops, or browse an online secondhand retailer like thredUP, and find designer bags like Coach, to satisfy the more luxurious wants of your family members for much less.
Not sure what to get the young man in your life? That is, if you don’t want to pay for a video game or a gaming subscription. Get him something that will fit in to his day, since much of his free time is likely already taken up playing video games into the late hours of the day. Something like a personalised boot bag will be the perfect practical gift he can use and appreciate everyday, bringing his sport shoes to school or practice.
Sometimes we are fresh out of ideas for our friends or in-laws. In those instances, get them their favorite bottle of wine or craft brews and find out what little snack pairs well with it. Wine with its best paired chocolate makes for a cute and simple gift set. It may be worth your time to investigate with your other friends or their partners to find out what their favorite kind of wine or beer is. To elevate this gift idea for the wine connoisseur in your life try a wine subscription service that will allow them to be a little adventurous and sample a variety of wines.
If you’re struggling with gift ideas there are many other kinds of subscription services, so just try searching online for that hard-to-buy-for friend and keep them pleased for the duration of the subscription.
Shopping online has some real advantages. Paying for shipping can be a deterrent for some but many retailers will have codes for free shipping to encourage online holiday shopping. Some sites, like Amazon, are also known for offering free shipping for its members year round. If you are someone who has a membership like this, take advantage. The closer the holidays get, the crazier the shops will get and the more you’ll want to avoid them and do your shopping from home.
While you’re browsing online, make sure you check out available browser plug-ins that are designed to save you money. A website like Rakuten is associated with many of your favorite retailers and you can earn points while doing your normal online shopping that translate to rewards of your choosing. With some strategy, you could create a feedback reward cycle of shopping for the holidays. The rewards earned for one gift could help pay toward another gift and so on.