I went to a store on Saturday to try to get my Christmas shopping done, and as I was standing in the checkout line I recognized that I was having a crazy moment. Not a crazy moment like when the kids are being noisy and it’s five o’clock and I’m trying to cope, but crazy as in, “Who is this person? This is totally not like me at all.”
What was happening?
I went to one store to buy a gift for someone else, and I came out with no gift but three things for myself: a wool sweater in a gorgeous shade of peacock blue, a matching pair of lamps with zebra shades, and a cape. Yes, a cape. No, not like a Halloween cape, more like an equestrian-style cape. I don’t know what came over me.
I did get all of my Christmas shopping done, which is what I set out to do last week in an attempt to minimize stress for the holidays. I’ve never done it this early before, but setting goals and focusing on specific projects like this works really well for me.
I did it: in one week I bought and wrapped unique gifts for more than twenty people (including December birthdays because we shouldn’t forget those.)
(Twenty? Yes. And more. And before you ask, yes I did take some people off the list to shorten it. And yes, we do draw names for two family groups to keep it simple. Right now I’ll just feel fortunate to have so many people in our lives to whom we can give gifts.)
In all this shopping, I learned a few good lessons…
“A little for you, a little for me…”
Every year when I go Christmas shopping I’m reminded of this basic truth:
And this can get you into some trouble. It’s hard to concentrate on the gifts you need to find when you see a whole bunch of shirts on sale that you know you’d like. You’re already primed to buy, there are sales everywhere, and it’s the end of the year. It’s a weak spot.
Know what your wardrobe is lacking before you go shopping. Have a wish list. Avoid buying something random because it’s on sale — that can bust your budget.
There is so much more selection when do your shopping early. You can find clothes in the sizes you want. You don’t have to wait in line to check out.
Whether you go early or go late, you’re spending the same amount of time, but going early makes you feel successful instead of stressed out. I’m so glad I can go into the Christmas season with that crossed off my list.
Just because you’re going shopping early, it doesn’t mean you should linger and spend more time on it. Get it done. For the first gift we bought we went to a department store and spent an hour wandering around before we made a decision. I looked at our long gift list, and I knew we couldn’t do that for every gift. We changed our approach:
- Go to stores where you can buy gifts for more than one person at a time. This saves all the time you would spend driving, getting your kids in and out of the car, looking around, and checking out. After that first gift we consolidated our ideas and went to the antique store, the book store, and the hardware store. With most of our purchases made, we could finish up the rest of the list in other places.
- Bonus! When you go to fewer stores, you’ll have less enticement to make impulse buys. The more stores you go in, the more promotions and sales you see.
- Find a gift they’ll enjoy. You won’t find one that will make all their dreams come true. Don’t worry about it, just pick something.
- When you do all of your shopping in a condensed amount of time, it is easier to know and keep track of how much money you’re spending overall than when your shopping is spread out through the whole month.
Wrap It Up
When you get your shopping finished, you’ll feel so good about it that you’ll want to throw your hands up and call it done. Buying all those gifts takes a lot of time, but you’re not done yet. You still have to wrap.
I always forget just how long it takes to wrap all those presents. When the wrapping is finished, that’s when you really are done.
I use my shopping list to keep track of which presents are wrapped so I don’t forget anything and nothing gets lost. Seeing all those gifts wrapped signals to me that it’s over and I can ignore the rest of the sales and advertisements. I don’t need to add anything else.
All that shopping and I only had one crazy moment of impulsiveness get to me…I think that’s pretty good.
I returned the cape I bought. It was awesome for about an hour, but I decided it wasn’t perfect. I saved the peacock-blue wool sweater. It was so beautiful that we decided it could be my Christmas gift this year, not that Doug needs any help, I just really loved it. I’m keeping the zebra lamps too; I have a plan for those.
Now all the presents are put away at the top of the coat closet, and I’m deciding what to do next for preparations. I’m thinking I need to do some housekeeping before Thanksgiving, or maybe we need to get everyone haircuts.