The holiday season is upon us! Along with being a time of eating, drinking and being merry, Christmas can also be one of the most stressful times of the year. In fact, according to a recent study conducted by Ebay, holiday shopping can be as stressful as running a marathon.
Now that the official countdown has begun, the pressure is on to get all the shopping done. Even for the most avid shopping enthusiast, holiday shopping is not an experience they look forward to. However, don’t stress out, we are sharing some tips to keep you sane this holiday season and survive Christmas shopping in Okotoks and the surrounding areas for your loved ones.
1. Make a list
Just like Santa, get yourself organized by making a list. Write down everyone in your life you plan on getting a gift for, no matter how small the present may be. Also jot down multiple options of what each person would like, in case your first choice doesn’t pan out, along with the maximum amount you are willing to spend. This practice will not only help you save time, but also stay on your holiday budget.
2. Do your research online
In today’s world, doing your prep beforehand has become as easy as lifting your phone. There are many resources you can tap into online for product reviews and ratings, such as Amazon or ConsumerReports.org (check out their 2016 Holiday Gift Guide!). This will help you refine your list from items you think you want to get to items you should get. Go window shopping online by browsing the deals and specials at your favourite retailers, make note of the best deals (online and in-store) and plan your day at the mall. Apps like ShopSavvy and Flipp should be staples on your phone this holiday season that will help you save money on-the-go!
3. Promotional emails do not always equal spam!
Christmas is definitely a time where your inbox gets filled with an avalanche of emails blasts containing holiday specials and promos. Before you head off to the mall, as part of your research, you should be taking inventory of your inbox and finding out which stores are offering the best deals and promotions. Often, retailers offer their subscribers exclusive offers which are not promoted to the public. This will help you prioritize which stores you want to hit and collect any coupons to help you get the most out of your buck. Don’t forget to scope out your junk or spam email in case any promotional emails have ended up in there.
4. Secure your car
When considering this tip, ask yourself: what percentage of your Christmas shopping will be done locally? If the answer is a low number, you will be making a few road trips from Okotoks to surrounding areas to the bigger city malls. When making the drive to a different city, chances are you will not get the opportunity to go home between shopping at different stores or malls to stow away the presents you have bought. Every Christmas season, shoppers flood to the stores, which makes mall parking lots a hot spot for car thieves. The 2017 GMC Acadia and the 2017 Chevrolet Traverse offer covered underfloor cargo area storage, giving you the option of storing your Christmas shopping out of sight to passersby. Additionally, having a car with a built-in security system, such as the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze, will scare off anyone attempting to sneak into your car in a crowded mall parking lot.
5. Start early morning
If you work, consider taking a half day and hit the stores bright and early in the morning. At first, it may seem like a waste of time off, but it will be worth your time and sanity. Even though malls are always busy during the holidays, crowds will be half of what they usually are on the weekend.
6. Shop from home
If you’re a newbie to online shopping, start with the Amazon deals page along with their 12 Days of Deals. Other great places to start are Shop.ca, Etsy, Bestbuy.ca and thebay.com. With most retailers offering a robust online shopping experience and discounted, if not free, shipping to Canada at this time of the year, it becomes even easier to help you find the best deals, explore many options, while avoiding the holiday crowds from the comfort of your home. This becomes especially more convenient for shopping for those who live far away. Especially this time of the year, retailers often provide the option of gift-wrapping your purchased items.
If you are planning on doing all your Christmas shopping online, start right now. Shipping can take upwards to three weeks or, in some cases, longer if there are delays. Always read all the information on the retailer’s website and confirm delivery date before placing your order to ensure you get all your gifts on time. Do keep an eye on the shipping fees as they can add up.
7. Go solo
Going with a group will only slow you down. These are times of survival and efficiency is key. Shedding off the extra weight for this sometimes dreaded task will help you get through your list faster and, trust us, you do not want to spend any more time in the mall than you have to.
8. Get creative
Not everything worth gifting is material. Give them a gift of a memorable experience – whether it’s for the adventure seeker in your life with a skydive or something much more leisurely like a balloon ride. With sites like Groupon and Livingsocial, it’s easier than ever to find unique experiences and surprise your family and friends with an out-of-the-box present.
9. Make someone’s Christmas miracle a reality
Are you noticing that it’s not just you but your entire family who is going through the anxiety and stress of coping with Christmas shopping? Consider embracing the true essence of Christmas, the spirit of giving, and instead of getting a material present for each person on your list, give out donations to different charities on their behalf of the amount you would have spent on their gifts. The holidays are a time where charity and community support are in high demand (and lately, even more so) and you will find many worthy causes to donate to.
10. Fuel up
After waiting in line at the stores, the last thing you will want to do is stand in line to get fast food and eat your meal in an over-crowded, loud and dirty mall food court. Instead, eat a hearty meal before heading to the mall and bring snacks and water with you so you can skip lunch.
Bonus Tip: You are never too late!
Remember, at the end of the day, Christmas should be about spending quality time with your family and loved ones. Don’t sweat it if you are not able to check off every single box off your list. There is always cash, there are always gift cards you can get online, which, along with a thoughtful note, can go a long way.