A few years ago, I made a pact with myself to get out in front of the disaster called my Christmas Shopping. I hate shopping as a matter of principle, but buying presents for people is kind of fun… except when I have to do it for everyone I care about at the same time. For me, the conception aspect is the hardest part of gift giving – what do I buy for who? Once I’ve got that down, I just have to deal with the execution: actually buying the gift, which can be challenging, but doesn’t require nearly as much thought.
After some truly awful Christmas Shopping experiences (I pulled a quad), I decided that I needed to do a few key things that would save me time and make my life a lot easier.
1. I’m making a list, I’m checking it twice…
That’s bullshit – actually, I’m checking and updating it a zillion times over the course of the entire year. See, the first thing you have to do to be a successful Christmas shopper is get organized. I’ve started what I refer to as my Forever Gift List and it’s made all the difference in the world because I use it for Christmas, birthdays and any other gift giving occasion. All you need to do is make a list of everyone you need to give a gift to and anytime you get an idea, jot it down.
I use Google Docs for my list because I can access it from my phone and my PC, so it’s super handy. At first, I used a spread sheet, which is easier to read and organize on a PC but a pain in the ass on my phone – even on my Samsung Infuse and it’s ridiculous four inch screen. Now I use a regular Word Doc, which works great on both my phone and my PC. The list is also handy because you can go back and see what you got someone previously, and this can make getting the next gift easier if they liked it – or hated it.
Do yourself a favor – don’t ever start shopping until you know what you’re going to buy. Wandering around stores or the internet is like being one of the zombies on that The Walking Dead show.
2. Spread out the pain!
If you do all of your Christmas shopping during the month of December, you’re tougher than I am – or blessed with a bigger bank account than I, at the very least. When you have a list at your disposal, you can start doing your shopping any time you want and you can pay for it gradually instead of one big, painful credit card bill. See, I know my credit card monthly billing cycle ends around the 20th of the month, so I make sure to get my first round of shopping done between October 20th and November 20th. Then I do my next round during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday period. I do the last minute stuff after December 20th, and I’m good to go – horrible, painful gift expenses spread over three months.
3. Shop online
Supporting local stores and the big box chains is all well and good – they create jobs, contribute to the local economy and so on – but seriously, who has the time or patience for that? I do not. If you hate going to the mall as much as I do (you’d rather let the neighborhood children take turns using your car for a trampoline), then just get your Amazon and eBay on. Depending on what you need, there’s lot of other places to shop online, but it terms of one stop shopping, they’re about as good as it gets. Plus, Amazon’s credit card has a cash back feature that you can use for future purchases or just have them send you a check, straight up. It’s also pretty easy to hit Amazon’s Free Shipping threshold when you’re doing a big order. It’s also nice to be able to ship something directly to the recipient and not have to deal with the post office.
Wrapping Presents: Don’t wait till the last minute like these turtles did.
4. Don’t wait to wrap presents!
As gifts arrive in the mail (or if you actually brave the outside world), don’t sleep on that shiz – wrap em up! The longer you wait, the worst it gets, and if you do two or three shipments, it’s not so bad. I mean, it still sucks golf balls through a garden hose, but it’s way better than when I would do a ‘wrap night’ way to close to Christmas (December 23rd at best) and have to wrap every single gift. That sucks HARD.
Christmas shopping is no joke, and if you think like I do, then it’s already crunch time. Good luck!