Eliminate Holiday Shopping Anxiety

It’s supposed to be the most joyful time of year but many of us start to feel holiday shopping anxiety as soon as we begin seeing holiday decorations on display in stores. The 10 tips below will help you be proactive, stay organized, and ensure you don’t overextend yourself. Use these tips to create a full strategy to minimize your specific holiday stressors.

Tip #1 Make A Few Lists

Getting organized is proactive and can go a long way in taking anxiety down a notch. Start by making a few electronic lists using your preferred list or note app, so that you can easily access and update your list on the go.

  • The first list should be everyone you plan on shopping for this year, personal, professional, and charitable.
  • The second list can be added to the first list and include gift ideas, links to digital gift lists, and essential info such as each person’s hobbies, favorite colors, and what size clothing they wear.
  • The third list should be a timeline for when you must purchase gifts, as many need to be mailed or exchanged before the holidays.
  • The last list should be of the non-gift items you need, such as more decorations, gift wrapping essentials, holiday dinner list, and hostess gifts.

Tip #2 Set Your Budget

If financial strain is a large part of your holiday anxiety, create a budget. This should include your total holiday spending—such as what you spend on gifts, what you will spend on new holiday decorations, and how much to budget for holiday food, entertaining, and hostess gifts. One strategy is to spend the same amount on everyone, but that may not work across the board. For example, you may want to spend more on your best friend or partner than most. With the pandemic, budgets may be tighter this year than ever before. If that’s the case, keep spending to a minimum and don’t create more debt while holiday shopping.

Tip #3 Edit Your Gift Exchange List

Now that you have a budget in place, it may be time to edit your gift list. Begin by eliminating the people you only purchase gifts for because they purchase something for you. It is better to give than to receive but you should never feel obligated to give a gift to anyone. If you don’t fully eliminate them from your list, give them a lower budget and more generic gift. For example, a $15 box of gourmet chocolates or a $10 bottle of wine.

If you have a large family or friend group, consider drawing names this year instead of buying presents for everyone. There are a few ways you can do this. You can draw names for the adults, and still buy something for all the kids or draw names for everyone, including the kids. Set a minimum and maximum dollar amount, as even a larger dollar amount will save everyone money—because you are only buying for one person.

Tip #4 Create Your Shopping Strategy

Now that you know who you are buying for and how much you are spending, it’s time to create a shopping strategy. If shopping in general is a source of anxiety, consider using CBD oil to help soothe your anxiety.

  • Take advantage of sales such as Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday—all of which you can access online while social distancing. Some of these sales sell out fast but can save you a lot of money.
  • Find an app or two that empowers you to comparison shop or a browser extension like Honey that provides coupon codes for items in your shopping cart. If shopping online, be sure to factor in shipping costs.
  • For those who live out of town, consider egifts such as gift cards to restaurants or retailers or wait until the week before to shop so that their gift can be shipped directly from Amazon and other sites. This leaves some gifts for the last minute but eliminates the gift wrapping and shipping. Either way, plan what you will buy ahead of time and have a plan B just in case an item sells out.
  • To maximize and maintain your budget, identify discounted places to shop, such as Marshals, Home Goods, and T.J. Maxx—where you can find countless gifts that retail for significantly less than full price.
  • If holiday shopping crowds make you anxious, or you usually love the crowds but this year you have COVID-19 concerns—be strategic about when and where you shop.
  • Think outside the box and consider making your gifts this year. From handmade crafts to jams, jellies, skincare products, and more. If you are a baker, you could bake a delicious holiday candy or dessert for everyone.
  • It’s too late this year, but start shopping year-round for holiday gifts. As you find sales throughout the year, buy generic or person-specific gifts. Or, if you find something someone you know will love, buy it early and stash it away for their birthday or the next holiday season. Also, consider doing a bit of after-Christmas shopping to take advantage of 50 to 70 percent off.

Tip # 5 Stock Up On Generic Gifts

If it’s in the budget, stock up on generic gifts that you can grab and give last-minute. Maybe to minimize the embarrassment of not having a gift for someone or to give as a hostess gift for a last-minute holiday party? A few generic gifts include:

  • Imported coffee
  • Gourmet tea
  • Wine
  • Chocolates
  • Gourmet oil and vinegar
  • Restaurant gift cards
  • Lotion gift sets
  • Wellness gift sets

Tip #6 Ask Them What They Want

If your anxiety is caused by trying to identify the perfect gift, don’t forget to ask friends and family what they want. Yes, you can even ask your clients and colleagues for ideas. Not everyone will provide gift ideas, but many will. If you have kids on your gift list, many of them will have digital wish lists that they can share with you.

Tip #8 Don’t Wait Till The Last Minute

The longer you wait to shop the more stress you will feel, so don’t wait until the last minute. Yes, you can find great sales a few days before each holiday, but you may not be able to find a gift that you will be excited to give. With online shopping, there’s really no reason to wait. If shopping isn’t your thing, delegate it. If your spouse, child, or sibling loves to shop—ask if you can pass the responsibility on to them. This is only if shopping doesn’t cause them anxiety too. If it’s in the budget, hire a personal shopper.

Tip #9 Make Gift Wrapping Easy

If you aren’t a skilled gift wrapper, invest in gift bags and tissue. They come in every size and make wrapping awkward shaped items easier. For items that will be wrapped in paper, try to put them in a box first which makes wrapping more uniform. Many retailers offer free or paid gift-wrapping services or if you know someone who loves to wrap gifts, ask them if they can help you. Many online retailers offer year-round or holiday season gift wrapping. Be mindful though as this add-on expense can add up.

Tip # 10 Make Your Boundaries Clear

There are a variety of boundaries that you may benefit from setting during the holiday season. If you are a minimalist, you may not plan on giving many gifts, and only want to receive minimalist gifts. If you live as green and clean as possible, you may only give cruelty-free and environmentally conscious gifts. If you are one of the countless Americans on unemployment or making reduced income due to the pandemic, holiday shopping may not be in your budget this year. Or maybe you need to set boundaries regarding whose house you are going to for the holidays this year. Whatever your boundaries are, make them clear. Not everyone will respect your boundaries, but at least let them be known.

Finally, set an intention for the holiday season, with a focus of connecting, engaging, and spending quality time with your nearest and dearest!

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