Tips, Uncategorized

Christmas Shopping Tips: Our Loss, Your Gain

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New Parent Syndrome

When we first started Christmas shopping for our fresh little family we definitely went over the top. We wanted our kids to have picture perfect holidays where all of their Christmas dreams came true. Snow on the ground, loads of toys, a perfectly decorated house, puppies under the tree, the whole bit.

I truly thought we needed Martha Stewart type holidays. This means our Christmas shopping was out of control. In my perfect world, inside my own head, these unrealistic holidays were so easily attainable and were being given out like an Oprah audience giveaway.

Did I have the money for this? Nope. Did I have the energy for this? Nope. But, oh boy, I was determined. It actually makes me giggle looking back on it. 

Our babies had tons and tons of presents under the tree in the first few years. We spent a ridiculous amount of money and countless hours shopping, wrapping, and making sure all was perfect. 

Can you believe these kids didn’t give two sh*ts about having all of these gifts? Our kids didn’t care at all about opening gifts when they were super little. The gifts sat under the tree for days and days.

The funny thing is everyone told us this would happen. When you are young you’ve got it all figured out, you know?

Nevertheless, each year we thought they’d get more into it since they’d be a whole year older. And they did, oh they did. Once they got more and more into their gifts, their expectations became higher and higher.

What. Had. We. Done?!

We got ourselves into some deep waters without even meaning too. I’m not saying our kids were brats when they didn’t get what they wanted, because that wasn’t the case. However, when they made their Christmas lists, they asked their little hearts away. Of course we loved to make them happy so we gave in.

Fast forward a few more years… My husband and I were exhausted. The holidays weren’t enjoyable anymore. It was backbreaking making sure we got our kids the best, newest, shiniest gifts. And for what? So they could play with them a few times and throw them into the deepest existence of their toy boxes?

Eventually, we learned to prioritize differently during the Christmas holiday. We quit spending a ridiculous amount money and really took the time to take a smarter approach.

This involved sitting our kids down and explaining to them that we would be doing Christmas differently that year. To help the transition, we went into depth about what we should really be focusing on during the holidays.

Anyway, each year we get a little smarter as we learn along our Christmas shopping journey. We learn how to work the sales better, we learn how to know what to buy better, we learn how to budget better, etc. Now I’m not saying that we go completely stressfree during the holidays, but we have sure come a long way.

Tip 1: Focus on What Christmas Really Means.

What does Christmas mean to you? Jesus? Family? Giving? All of the above? Knowing what you really care about at Christmas will help you out tremendously. It will help you prioritize your holiday shopping and narrow down what you will be buying.

Tip 2: Christmas Shopping Budget.

I feel like I am starting to sound like a broken record in my posts. That’s probably because budgeting is a super important part of our lives. If you are in the same boat, budget before you go Christmas shopping. 

See my ‘Easy Ways to Save Money‘ post. These ideas may be helpful when growing for your Christmas shopping fund.

Anyway, figure out how much you have and plan to spend all together. Then, make a list of categories, people, etc. Create a budgeting plan for those too. Calculate as much as you can and really try to stick to your plan.

Tip 3: Analyze Your People.

For the sake of this topic, I will use your kids as an example of who you are doing your Christmas shopping for. Before you shop for them, really take time to analyze them. Jot down their current interests, personality, needs, etc.

What are they wanting?
What do they need?
What are they into?
Is what they are asking for doable?
Is what they are asking for silly? Or is it worth your while?

We start our Christmas shopping with things our kids NEED before anything else. Yes, sometimes those are boring gifts, but that’s ok. 

Then we move on to their INTERESTS. Our son is totally into sports, for example. We love to foster that so we buy him sports related items. Our toddler is in love with puzzles so that’s something she will be getting this year.

Next, we move onto our kids’ Christmas list. Are they asking for junk? Is it over the top? Do they really want this or is this just an impulse wish list item? We really take time to think about the item, the cost, and how much we think our kids would like it before we decide to buy the item for them.

Santa usually brings their most desired gift. Mom and dad would never be that nice. Santa also makes sure to bring a gift for the family which is usually a game for us to all play together. This is always super fun. 

Tip 4: Share Wish Lists’.

If you have loved ones who are also Christmas shopping for your child, share their lists with them. This takes some of the load off of you, and I’m sure the shopper will be relieved to give a gift that will actually be cherished. Noone likes Christmas shopping in the dark and risking the chance of their time and money being wasted. Plus, no one likes returning gifts, so this saves you as well. 

Tip 5: Homemade Gifts.

Grandparents especially love homemade gifts. Often times this can save you money, too. Homemade gifts trump Christmas shopping any day, so see what you can come up with. BUT, don’t be one of those DIY’ers who spend a sh*t ton of money on supplies. 

If you are stumped on ideas Pinterest is all you need, my friend. Also, you can make homemade gifts at any time of the year as long as you have somewhere safe to store your project.

Tip 6: Start Shopping Early.

I totally get that Christmas shopping throughout the year might be super scary. However, it is extremely worth it. This tip should actually be first on my list.

This is the first year we have been smart enough to shop early and it seriously feels amazing. Having a dent of your Christmas shopping done by October is dope.

Also, don’t shop too late. Stores know that if you wait until the last minute they’ve got you locked in on their prices. Early bird gets the worm, right?

Tip 7: Compare Prices.

I cannot stress this tip enough. Do not buy gifts, ESPECIALLY TOYS, without comparing prices first. Don’t even leave the house until you have done this if you are after a specific item.

My husband and I learned the hard way that it is well worth the extra effort to compare prices. Do you really want to fall into the ‘holiday price jacking’ schemes of the stores you shop at? We don’t. I’m sure you don’t either. 

Check prices on your phone while you are out. Search other stores’ prices. The store you are at may do price matches, you just have to ask. Always ask! 

Tip 8: Buy Online – Part I.

If you are comfortable buying online I totally recommend it. I search through online clearance and sales sections, study the sales, enter promo codes, examine shipping rates, and take advantage of free store shipping. I don’t do this often but if I can’t get it shipped free to my house, free shipping to store and picking it up is the next best thing. I hate paying shipping costs.

Downloading each store app is very helpful for keeping track of sales and also for gaining access to coupons you may not get elsewhere. Some deals are online only exclusives and a lot of store apps are easy to use and easy to order on.

Buy Online – Part II.

Amazon Prime. My Favorite. If you don’t already have it, you can start your free 30-day trial by clicking here or by clicking the banner below. There is no better time to give Amazon Prime a test run than while Christmas shopping. Take FULL advantage of a free trial. Get all of your shopping done possible with the perk of unlimited FREE two-day shipping on Prime items. Plus, Prime members get instant access to Prime Video and Amazon Music. I could go on and on about the parks of Amazon Prime. You’ve just gotta check it out for yourself!

Tip 9: Gift Cards, Subscriptions, and Memberships.

Gift Cards

Sometimes, people feel that gift cards are impersonal. I completely disagree. I would much rather purchase a gift card for a loved one than buy them a gift that turns out to be a total bust. And, I’d rather receive a gift card than a gift I totally hate from a relative who means well but epically failed.

Gift cards are GREAT for people who are hard to shop for. You know, those people who buy things if they want them, is super picky, or has everything under the sun.

Gift cards can be super fun for children to receive. My kids love them. They love Amazon gift cards (you can get those here), Target, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Hobby Lobby, Nike, and Cabela’s are some of our favorites. 

Car wash and Fuel cards are a total hit with new/young drivers.

You don’t have to focus on just retail store gift cards. You can also pick gift up cards for activities like pottery painting, restaurants, movies, things like that.

Memberships & Subscriptions

Memberships are another awesome gift card that we love to purchase while Christmas shopping. Always ask before doing this because you never know who has a membership to what. Amazon Prime, Costco, and gym memberships are my top recommendations. 

Magazine subscriptions are something my kids have asked for this year. Am I going to get them one? Hell yes! Cultivating their love for reading makes my heart sing. 

Tip 10: Black Friday & Cyber Monday.

2018 Dates to remember:
Black Friday – November 23, 2018
Cyber Monday – November 26, 2018

If you aren’t sure what is so special about these days, I will fill you in. Black Friday is held the day after Thanksgiving and stores offer some pretty good bargains. These days, some retailers start their Black Friday sales the night of Thanksgiving. Each store varies.

Cyber Monday is the Monday after Thanksgiving where online retailers hold their super good sales.

I personally don’t have much experience with either of these but I have heard there are loads of dollars to be saved if you are willing to put in the work. Black Friday gets crazy so stay safe if you are brave enough to attempt that. 

Tip 11: After Christmas Sales.

This tip will only apply to very few of you. It actually applies to myself since I get together with my family to exchange gifts well after the holidays. We live a few hours from each other and there is a mountain range in between us that gets NASTY in the winter time, or else we would get together much sooner.

Anyway, if you have people that you are shopping for but won’t be getting together until after the holiday, after Christmas deals may be good for you. Stores want to get their Christmas stuff gone!

Conclusion.

At the end of the day be content with doing what you can. You don’t have super powers, you are a normal human being. Your loved ones love you for you, not by what you buy for them for Christmas. 

I truly hope these tips give you some peace during your holiday shenanigans. God Bless. 


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