Don’t freak out, but Christmas is even closer than just around the corner – it’s just up the block and it’s heading for you at a clip. In an ideal world, all of your holiday gifts would already be purchased, wrapped and sitting pretty under the immaculately-decorated tree.
Though holiday shopping becomes a bit more frantic and stressful as we near the 25th, use these helpful tips to keep yourself sane while getting last-minute shopping done.
1. Shop on Weekdays
It might be worth it to rearrange your schedule or play hooky from work one day to get your shopping done while the rest of the city is working away. There are significantly fewer people out shopping during the week, which means more parking spots, shorter lines, and a lot less crowd-jostling. You’ll save time, and probably a great many headaches when you’re not competing with the masses. If you can make it out on a Tuesday, you’ll even get free valet parking on Oak Street.
2. Make a Game Plan
Do not, I repeat do not, leave your house without a list and a game plan. Shopping can be unproductive when you’re just wandering aimlessly looking for the perfect gifts to jump out at you. It may feel overwhelming, and you could end up walking out of stores empty-handed. Instead, make a list of everyone you have to shop for and jot down a couple of ideas for each one. It’s ok if you don’t have a specific item in mind for each person, but try to have some idea. “Jewelry” gives you much more direction than nothing.
Also, if you know where you’re going shopping, try to map out at which stores you’ll buy for each person. That way, you can make sure that you don’t have to double-back to any store where you’ve already been that day.
3. Video Input
For most people on our list, there’s another person with whom we’re secretly collaborating to make sure that we’re buying the right thing. While shopping for your brother-in-law, you’re undoubtedly sending long, detailed text messages to your sister to ask her opinion on a potential gift. Instead, why not make a quick video showing the gift and recording your questions about it – it’s a lot quicker and more descriptive than a rambling text message.
4. Think Outside the Gift Box
We all have people on our list who are impossible to shop for. Instead of buying them one more thing that will sit in the back of their closet or end up being exchanged, try something out of the ordinary. Give the gift of an experience and you can’t go wrong. If you’re stumped, give a gift certificate for a cool hotel, a spa day or a dinner at a nice restaurant.
5. Take Care of Yourself
Holiday shopping should not make you frazzled and miserable – ideally, it should be a fun, festive experience. If you take the time to treat yourself a bit, it can be. Build in time to take a pause for a relaxing, sit-down lunch at a delicious restaurant. This will recharge your batteries so you’re ready to keep going with gusto. If lunch is too much of a commitment, at least stop for a few moments to enjoy a coffee and some people-watching. And, if you feel you’re on the edge, buy yourself a little something nice. There’s no rules against putting yourself on your holiday shopping list.
Though the days before Christmas might be dwindling, there’s no reason to lose your cool over shopping. If you do it right, it can actually be enjoyable and satisfying. Have fun with it and remember the reason you’re out there battling crowds. It’s all about bringing a smile to the faces of your favorite people.