Destress the Holidays with Smart Gift-Giving
By Beverly Coggins
My brother loves the crowds and the getting out into the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping. I don't know many others who do, though! I am stressed if I have to elbow my way through a store or not be able to find what I want because I waited too late. If you are smart, you can make holiday gift-giving less stressful. Here are a few ideas:
- Make a master list of gifts you need to buy or make along with a budget for the amount you want to spend. Stick to your budget and don't buy impulsively. Don't compete with family and friends - spend what you can afford.
- Set a deadline for finishing your shopping so you avoid crowds, the last-minute rush, and poor selection. Remember those gifts for teachers, religious teachers, extra-curricular instructors, and stocking stuffers. Buy the same gift for several people on your list, if appropriate. Take advantage of the sales after Christmas to shop for next year's list.
- Plan your shopping trips. What stores might have most of your gifts? What is the most efficient route to the stores on your list? A little planning avoids backtracking, saving time and gas.
- Consider gift certificates that can be sent to the recipients via email or U.S. mail. Or shop online and have your purchases sent directly to the recipients. You don't have to wrap either!
- If you're into making your own Christmas gifts, mass produce a gift and give it to as many people on your list as possible. To reduce stress, choose a gift that doesn't have to be made at the last minute. Create deadlines for each stage of production, if applicable, so you're finished in plenty of time.
- As you buy or make gifts, wrap them so you don't have a massive pile to do at one time. Use TV time or other mindless time to wrap. How efficient - you're doubling your time!
- Your children will be bombarded with commercial after commercial during the holiday season, and they may want it all! Have a conversation with them about realistic expectations, so they won't be disappointed. Make gift suggestions to relatives who are shopping for your children.
- If you want to get away from expensive or excessive gifts, consider alternative ideas:
- Instead of exchanging gifts, experience an event together - a day trip, a service project, a holiday event, etc.
- Take the money you would have spent on gifts for each other and donate it to a cause or your favorite charity or a needy family. My parents live in Oklahoma and the year of the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, they asked us to donate to The Salvation Army in their names, as that organization was so instrumental in helping during the aftermath.
- Consider drawing names or doing a "nice" white elephant game with a dollar limit on the gift.
- Give gift certificates of your time or service: babysitting, cleaning, meal preparation, handyman work, running errands, etc.
- Consider a "buy nothing" Christmas. One year we made a little booklet of our easy holiday entertaining recipes which we gave to friends and family.
- With some friends or family, you may want to call a moratorium on gifts, especially when you get to the point of not needing anything. If it's the thought that counts, try writing your thoughts down and giving them a note or letter expressing your gratitude for their friendship or love.
The holidays can be a stressful time. With a little planning, you can reduce the stress of holiday shopping and enjoy blessing your friends - without straining your budget or your temper!
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