There’s no doubt the holidays are all about good things like spending time with the family and making wonderful meals from childhood. For many parents, they are also fraught with situations of managing unhappy kids in shopping malls. How can you keep your sanity this holiday season?
From the crowds to the always-out-of-stock items, it’s downright impossible to get through the day without getting a bit upset and overwhelmed. Consider these simple tips that can help you de-stress the shopping experience this year.
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#1: Shop as Early as Possible
Perhaps the most important tip is to not wait until the last minute. While that’s easy to say, there are few simple ways to do this that you can begin incorporating now.
- Pick up gifts as you go during the early parts of the season. You can always return it later if it isn’t the right choice.
- Make every trip to the store a potential spot to pick up items, even the drug store or grocery store. Be on the lookout.
- Don’t wait for the ads. Buy what you need now, online.
#2: Get a List – Or Don’t Get One
If you have children who want to pick out a few specific items they want, give them a time limit. Avoid waiting until the Thanksgiving newspaper rolls out to make decisions. Encourage your kids to let you know as early as possible what’s on their list; this includes college kids, friends, and family.
On the other hand, many parents will make life a bit easier on themselves if they skip the lists for most people. Instead, buy what you think is best for them. This tactic can reduce the risk of not being able to track down that last available toy this holiday season.
#3: Have a Budget in Mind
Sometimes the stress isn’t due to a time-management problem but a concern about the budget. Take the time to write out a list of who you need to buy for and the maximum amount you will spend on those individuals. When you budget like this, you know what to expect and can plan for how much you’ll spend. It helps to ease that stress in the back of your mind about having enough money for everything.
#4: Play the Black Friday Game Carefully
Black Friday can be an excellent way to save money for the holidays, but it’s not always the best way to spend your time. Is it worth heading out hours before the stores open to score one of the five available TVs that are marked down? Make sure you’re making the most out of your shopping time.
Keep in mind that many stores also offer deals on Thanksgiving and the day before. More deals take place throughout the rest of the holiday season. You may even be able to get a good deal online for the same item.
#5: Price Match as a Primary Purchase
During the holidays, retailers are competing heavily for your business. Many stores price match (before you check out policies beforehand). That means that while everyone else is racing to the big deal at one retailer, you know that another retailer has the same product and price matches. You miss all of the frustration and get the gift you desire.
Price matching can also work outside of your traditional retailers. Home improvement stores, electronics stores, and local shops may do it, too.
#6: This Year, Go Small Business
You know just how important it is to support your local business owners. It can also help to reduce a lot of your stress. Though many small businesses depend on the holiday season to remain afloat the rest of the year, they tend to be much less busy. They also tend to pack in all types of fun and unique items.
Head to small businesses in your areas for gifts such as:
- Odd items and unique gifts
- Specialized gifts with custom names or branding added to them
- Functional items that people need and want but won’t buy for themselves
When you visit a small business to buy a gift, ask them for a bit of advice and guidance. Many times, these locations also offer some fantastic deals. You often don’t hear about them because they lack the marketing budget to stand out from the more prominent retailers.
#7: Be Prepared and Organized
There’s so much to remember during the holidays – teacher gifts, recipes from Grandma’s cookbook, and new PJs for the kids – that it’s easy to get overwhelmed with what you need to buy. Having a simple list of what you need to buy on hand with you is essential.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to use a note app on your smartphone. If you don’t like the technology aspect of it all, consider just carrying a small notebook with you. Write down what you need as you go, making updates to the list over time.
#8: Use Self-Scan Wisely
While many people will find that self-scan systems for checking out are a good option in many cases for speedy checkouts, they can also be very frustrating. Use them when there’s no line, you have only a few things, and you are sure the prices are marked on everything.
Going to a person for checking out is an option in all cases. It’s a good time to chat with someone, which in itself can reduce your stress levels. It’s also far easier to price match, use coupons, or verify a sale price using these professionals at the register instead of a machine that can’t answer your questions.
#9: Use Layaway
Layaway is an excellent way to pick up what you need and put it on hold. Let’s say you don’t get paid for another week, but you finally found the toy your child wants. Layaway allows you to pick it up and make a small down payment on the item. It’s stored for you in the back, so you don’t lose it. This is a great way to balance purchases throughout the holiday season, too.
Each of these tips can help to reduce your holiday shopping frustrations. With coffee in hand and coupons lined up, shopping this holiday doesn’t have to be as difficult.
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