Savannah Marie searches for the best restaurants, wildlife and attractions that Harrisburg has to offer.
I like holiday shopping. I really do. But I also loathe stress. Unfortunately, stress and shopping this time of year go hand-in-hand like credit cards and consumer debt. Lucky for me I’ve had some great shopping mentors in my time who encouraged me to come up with nine awesome ways to lower my anxiety as the clock ticks closer to major gift-giving holidays.
1. Avoid Black Friday Like The Black Plague
Want to avoid the overwhelming stress of the holidays? Avoid ever starting. Black Friday might sound like a good way to save some bucks, but it puts you into a rush, rush, rush frenzy that won’t settle down until you drink a glass of eggnog on Christmas morning. Sometimes, the emotional and psychological price you pay for a deal is just too doggone high.
2. Have Last-Minute Presents Ready for People Who Give You Gifts
One of the biggest stressors for me is when the neighbor I didn’t expect to exchange gifts with suddenly gives me something really, really nice. I mean, I know that reciprocity isn’t expected, but I sure feel obligated to return the favor somehow! That’s why I always stash away a few presents that are applicable for moments like those; things like wine (you don’t have to get the most expensive bottle), European jams and jellies, and candles make fast go-to gifts and help you save a little face!
3. Only Buy for Those Who Are Close to You
Even if you aren’t the least bit handy-dandy with a sewing needle or a glue gun, you can still come up with some kind of homemade gift to give people who just don’t warrant a $100 sweater (sorry… just being honest here!). Even a batch of homemade fudge, cookies or bread is a great way to remember certain folks this time of year. They’ll appreciate the gesture, and you won’t have to dip into your savings.
4. Make a List and Stick Closely to It
Ah, the list. It has saved me many a time. I have a rule that if something isn’t on my list, I can’t buy it then and there. Now, I might buy it another day (or even later that day after giving it some serious consideration), but I’m not allowed to just willy-nilly start grabbing whatever I see on the shelves. I think I’ve avoided some major regrets with my list-making.
5. Buy Online Whenever Possible
The Internet is probably the lowest-stress place you can shop. Not only are the stores open 24/7, but you can peruse the merchandise while wearing comfy pajamas and sipping a glass of hot tea! A huge bonus is that stores are competing like crazy during December, so there are plenty of free shipping offers. Don’t forget to check the web for store promo codes and coupons so you get deeper discounts on the stuff your loved ones will actually want.
6. Get Personal
Half of the stress associated with holiday shopping is being unsure about what to get everyone on your list. Instead of focusing on the quantity of gifts, consider getting one highly-personalized gift for each person. If your husband just got a promotion and you know that a set of engraved cufflinks will make a perfect gift, make that his special gift for the season. Gifting items that you know your loved ones will appreciate will make the entire holiday shopping experience less painful and more meaningful.
7. Buy All Your Gifts Early in the Season
Procrastinators are doomed to stress during the bigger holidays. Even if you naturally tend toward waiting until the last minute, do your heart a favor and buy things in advance. Again, use the Internet if you don’t feel like heading to crowded shops or malls. (Alternatively, go during off times when the peak crowd level is unlikely to deter you from finishing the job at hand, such as really early in the morning or when the majority of people are at work.)
8. Let Stores Wrap Your Gifts
Honestly, I do enjoy wrapping gifts. There’s something so much fun about putting the wrapping together. However, I don’t do as good a job as the pros. That’s why I take advantage of free wrapping whenever I can. Sometimes, you can get reduced wrapping on your items if there’s a table outside of the store with some adorable munchkins who will wrap for a donation to their charity. What’s not to like?
9. Research Everything Before You Make Purchases
An enormous source of stress for me is having to take back presents because I made a mistake. Eliminate confusion and the need to go to the post office (it’s horrendous) by doing research before hitting the “buy now” button or handing your cash over to the salesperson.
My hope for you is a joyous holiday that’s filled with all the right emotions — happiness, laughter and satisfaction. Shopping may be a necessity, but there’s no reason to let it ruin a beautiful season.