Enjoy Christmas Shopping

I'm usually plotting Christmas gifts all year long. I stockpile bargains in my closet and wait eagerly for the celebration. For those gifts that I'm not as sure about, I plunk them into my online cart or jot them down on piece of paper and let them "ferment." Rarely do I buy a gift just for the sake of necessity. Instead, finding that perfect gift that I'm excited about has become a challenge I enjoy rising to.

Here are a few tips to help the shopping be more fun and less stressful.

  • Brainstorm. I'm not talking about a group session. I'm talking about you, a cup of coffee, and a piece of paper. Sit down and think about things your loved one enjoys. Think about the things they talk about, hobbies they have, things they admire. Also, try to get a full list of everyone you want to buy a gift for. This will save you a huge hassle in the end, when you're not having to stand in the candle aisle, trying to find a last minute filler gift for that great-aunt you never see and always forget to buy a gift for.

  • Start early. Notice that I'm sharing this at the beginning of November. Don't wait until Christmas Eve and try to buy everything. Not only will you stress yourself out, but the anticipation of having gifts waiting under the tree is lost. If you have your heart set on catching the Christmas sales, start the year before.

  • Reward your persistence. Part of this reward comes with the excitement of having finally "found it." But it's okay to reward yourself with a small gift after you're finished. Something like a ticket to a symphony, a coffee date with a friend, an afternoon baking session. These are all great motivators to get it done.

  • Enjoy the process. Just because you're motivating the process with a reward doesn't mean that it has to be miserable. Personally, I prefer to shop alone. I find that I'm less distracted and can spend the time I need browsing the clearance aisles, getting more and clearer ideas of what I want. But for some people, shopping alone is a drudgery. If they're going to have fun, they need to hit the shops with all of their friends. And that's fine too. Make it something you're excited to do.

I've only recently begun to enjoy buying gifts, but these four pointers helped me to make the season fun. As we head into these next few months, I hope you can take the time to relax and let the ideas flow.

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