3 Tips for Holiday ShoppingThe holidays are fast approaching, and if you’re like me, it can be a stressful time. Giving meaningful gifts to the people I’m closest to is very special to me, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Over the years, I’ve learned some ways to get around the anxiety of the holiday season. I hope these might help you!

  1. Start early. You don’t necessarily need to start shopping months before a holiday, but there’s no harm in thinking ahead. If I’m out shopping, even as early as August, I dedicate a few minutes looking around in aisles I might not normally browse to see if anything stands out as something I’d gift to a friend or family member. If you don’t find something, you haven’t lost anything but a few minutes of your time, and if you do, it’s one less gift you’ll be scrambling to figure out later, meaning less anxiety for you! Starting the shopping season early also enables you to spend your money in smaller quantities over a longer period of time
  2. Get organized. I love creating lists, and checking things off those lists is so rewarding. Each year I put together a spreadsheet in Google Drive with several columns: Item, Recipient, Cost, Store, and Notes. I separate the spreadsheet into an “Ideas” section and a “Purchased” section. I can access the spreadsheet anytime I’m out shopping or see something online that catches my eye and easily add it to the “Ideas” area. When I buy gifts, they’re placed in the “Purchased” area. Creating a spreadsheet might seem like a lot of work, but it can be invaluable in the long run because you’ll have an idea of how much money you’ve spent on gifts or might need to budget for, and you can access your spreadsheet in the future so you’re not duplicating items. (As a bonus organizational tip, you can also create a “Cards” tab to keep track of addresses for the people to whom you send holiday cards.)
  3. Find deals. Always being on the lookout for deals is a great strategy, provided you have the time. Thanks to online shopping, saving money is easier than ever, and you can do it from the comfort of your own home. One way to save a little bit of money is subscribing to a retailer’s site. Oftentimes signing up to receive a company’s emails can get you 15-20% off your next purchase (even better if free shipping is thrown in). I have an email account that I use specifically for these types of emails. If/when you get sick of the newsletters, just unsubscribe. I also use Ebates and there is really nothing to it – what might sound like a gimmick is actually just a nice way to earn a little money (emphasis on little, because it’s not a lot – but hey, it’s more than you’d get if you didn’t do it!) back from purchases you’d be making anyway. There are a ton of stores that partner with the site, so if you’re a fan of online shopping, there’s really no reason not to sign up. For even more savings, use the discount code you receive from the retailers and shop the site out of Ebates (if they’re partners) – you get the discount and you get a little money back!

Shopping using these habits has saved me a lot of money and anxiety over the past several years. The tips about finding deals don’t even just have to apply to gifts – saving and/or earning a little money back on purchases I make for myself means I come away from the experience feeling a little less guilty.

Thank you for checking this entry out – I hope it helps! Feel free to submit your holiday shopping tips. To wrap this entry up, I’ll leave you with a list of some of my go-to online retailers for gift shopping. (I’m not being compensated in any way for any of these; they’re stores I genuinely like!) Some are partners with Ebates – they’re marked with an asterisk.

  • ThinkGeek*: Gifts for anyone that likes Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Star Trek, or a plethora of other geekier interests
  • Perpetual Kid: Fun, inexpensive items that make great stocking stuffers or Secret Santa/White Elephant gifts
  • Gent Supply Co and its sister site, GiveSimple: Unique gifts that are reasonably priced
  • Nordstrom Rack*: Great for home goods and less expensive than Nordstrom
  • Gifts.com: This is a site that provides gift ideas based on the recipient, occasion, or personality type!
  • Amazon: Prime members get free two-day shipping on a lot of items!

Happy shopping!

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