As I write this there are precisely 34 shopping days left until X-Day (D-Day sounded too foreboding, but this is nevertheless a serious matter). For those who have loved ones, near and far, and I’m hoping that’s all of us, this is the most expensive time of year and one that needs the precision planning of a covert ops mission. Santa won’t know what hit him.
As someone with double digit presents to buy for family alone, I’ve been through tried and tested methods to carry off the giving portion of the festive season and land perfectly on the intersection where joy and responsible spending meet.
So gather ‘round children because I have a story for you.
Santa’s not the only one with lists
This is possibly one of the most crucial aspects of shopping. Without a carefully planned list of what to buy for who, no one knows what spur of the moment and questionable gift choice you will make.
Taking the time to think about what each person wants leads to more thoughtful, appropriate or creative gifts than just what you’ll find in Westfield.
I use Evernote for this because it syncs to all your devices so you can add ideas the minute they pop into your head. Plus there’s a nifty check box feature so you can have the satisfaction of ticking every item off your list.
If the advent calendar has started before you, you’re already behind.
Christmas gift shopping is a long distance run, not a sprint. Recently I read an article that said one in three people have their Christmas shopping done in October. I completed all my shopping this week; the first time ever it’s been done prior to Christmas Eve. This was partially because I’d just gotten paid and knew this was when I’d feel the most generous.
Sorry friends, as I will soon transform into the smug bastard looking down on you elbowing people out of the way at Myer to find gifts on Christmas Eve. Excuse me while I go help myself to another glass of eggnog.
Shop in your underwear
Online shopping is not just for fashions. I completed 100 per cent of my Christmas shopping online this year. Mainly because shopping centres make me claustrophobic and the car parks exacerbate my road rage, so it was best for all involved. Online shopping means a wider range of options, and prices of those options. The trick is buying multiple presents from the one site to save on shipping, or to concentrate on those that offer free shipping.
And don’t forget to check your airline membership’s retail partners to see what points you could be claiming by being so goddamned generous and infused with festive cheer. If you can swing it, try to buy from Australian retailers.
Going the complete other way, shopping locally at markets and in street-side boutiques can give similar benefits as online. The products are unique, often made local, and competitively priced. Last year I bought all my aunts and uncles various goods from a local pop up gourmet market and they went down a real treat, pun intended.
Pay It Forward
A gift I’m guaranteed to get every year is a goat or some chickens or a clean water pump given to people in need. My mum does it each year and it’s become a great tradition, and one that I’ve passed on in my own giving. A charitable gift always makes an impact, reminding people that it’s not about receiving a material item. Even if you want to give something physical to someone, why not try the Oxfam Shop or Modavanti, which sell ethical and sustainable gifts with a charity receiving the profits.
I gave Dad a pair of Conscious Step socks recently and he loved it, and every time he puts them on he knows that gift did someone some good.
FYI, you can DIY
This isn’t just for five year olds bestowing their shitty macaroni jewellery on people. DIY gifts say something that store bought ones can’t – that you didn’t spend just your money, but your time and energy for this person. The interwebs are your best ally for these creative endeavours.
For example my order of jars with chalkboard labels arrived today that come the 24th will be filled with a home made salted caramel sauce, recipe courtesy of some mum in Minnesota via Pintrest. I hope none of my extended family actually read these articles…
Credit doesn’t take a Christmas holiday
If you don’t anything else from this article, please please please take note of this: use debit over credit every time. According to a survey on creditcardfinder.com.au half of all shoppers who rely on plastic during the silly season are in arrears in February, and 5% still carry that debt a year later. Check out the full article here on MoneySaverHQ to scare you straight.
So strap on your Santa hats, cue those carols, start those lists and let’s get festive y’all!
Image: Ryan Steele, Flickr