8 Tips to Simplify Holiday Shopping

8 Tips to Simplify Holiday Shopping

Whether it’s smart shopping or good planning, use these tips to streamline your holiday.


The true meaning of the holidays can sometimes get muddled in the midst of busy malls and last minute shopping. Check out these top eight expert tips — from organizing trips to list management to simplifying your shopping — to maximize the fun and the savings.

1. Give Yourself a Reason to Get Your Work Done Quickly
During the holidays, take a step back and consider how you really want to spend your time. Make a list of four non-shopping-related wishes. Try taking the family ice skating or enjoying a horse-and-carriage ride downtown with your significant other. Jot these four items onto your calendar as inspiration to get your work done quickly.

2. Set a Budget
You can use the previous year's credit card and bank statements to figure out what you typically spend. Then, create a realistic spending plan — and stick to it!

Looking for ways to save? Simplify by setting spending limits on family gifts at $25 or even $10, drawing names for extended family and making your holiday party a potluck.

3. Make Lists
Start by making a three-column list and write the names of all of the people you need to get gifts for in the first column. In the second column, distribute your gift budget among the names. In the third column, list the stores you might need to visit.

For food-related items, make a separate list of dishes you'd like to bring to parties, food you'd like to make give for as gifts, items for entertaining and special recipes for family celebrations. Create one grocery list to cover all of these events.

4. Get Creative and Give Memories
“Gifts of your time are so meaningful today because people are so chronically busy,” says author Nancy Twigg. “Giving someone your time shows that you care enough to sacrifice one of your most valuable commodities. Unlike store-bought presents, these gifts are not duplicable and will be the source of memories for years to come.”

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Think creatively and be sensitive to the person's needs and likes. Twigg suggests giving homemade coupons redeemable for babysitting for the young couple who cannot take a night off, a day of housecleaning for the overworked mom or care for an adult's elderly parent for the day so the caregiver can get out of the house.

5. Shop Early
When you shop early in the season, the selection is better. Plus, shop early in the day to avoid crowds. Make it fun and save money by rising early to take advantage of “early-bird” deals. Completing your shopping early will give you peace of mind and allow you to enjoy the holidays more.

6. Shop Online
The selection is good and your pyjamas are comfy. Why not shop online for holiday gifts? This step also will save you a trip to the post office when you need to send items to relatives and friends. There are plenty of deals that pop up as the holiday season begins, so don't miss out!

7. Combine Trips
Save gas, money and your sanity. Before you head out, comb your gift lists and create lists for each type of store you'll need to visit: department, home improvement, specialty (books, sporting goods or electronics) and chain retailer. Follow your lists and resist the urge to throw in extras that will add stress and blow budgets.

8. Skip Spontaneous Shopping
When you are done, relax! Enjoy yourself and your family. Don't give in to the impulse of adding just one more gift. The gift of your time and your calm demeanour is what your family will appreciate the most.

With these tips, you’ll be able to get your shopping done, have a great holiday party and spend some real quality time with those you love. And, ultimately, get to the root of what the season is all about.

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