Too often, folks leave their holiday gift shopping to the last minute. Whether you’re doing your shopping late because of procrastination, perfectionism or simply a lack of time, last-minute holiday shopping is a sure recipe for stress. Here are seven smart tips to keep you sane while you get your last-minute gift shopping done.
1. Don’t Overthink.
Overthinking all the possible gift choices can result in you driving from store to store or spending hours comparing online wishlists. In the end, will Aunt Sally really care whether you get her the red woolly hat or the stripy scarf? It’s the thought that counts, remember? As soon as you find an acceptable gift, buy it and cross it off your list. Going in circles will keep you stuck forever in gift-shopping purgatory.
That’s sweet of you to want to give everyone at the office an individually wrapped box of pralines, but is that more important than your daughter’s hard-to-find ski jacket? Start with the most important gifts–the ones that affect your personal relationships. You really don’t need to stress about gifts for your co-workers or casual friends; they’re not expecting anything. If you must get them some little token, rest assured that they’ll be delighted with whatever you grab on your way to the checkout lane.
Is your sister out last-minute shopping for her kids? Ask her to pick up your kid’s gifts too, and offer to repay the favor by taking care of your shared gift to mom. Is your coworker headed to the coffee shop? Give him a $50 bill and ask him to bring back a few gift cards. Don’t hesitate to share the cost of large gifts with others or to trade shopping favors–it will save you all time. Or, you can just be a control freak and do all your shopping alone. The choice is yours.
4. Just Shop.
Whoever told you that you have to decide exactly what to buy before going gift shopping? Of course, it will save you time if you jot down a few ideas and plan to do all your shopping in one location, but you don’t need to have an exact item picked out for every person on your list. Sitting at home worrying about your lack of ideas is not going to get you anywhere. Just head to the store as soon as you have a free hour. Once you’re there, you’ll find creative gift ideas aplenty.
5. Slow down.
Just because you’re racing around the mall frantically doesn’t mean you’re accomplishing anything. You’ll have better luck with last-minute holiday gift shopping if you schedule small breaks into your day. Stop periodically to check how many gifts you have left to buy. If you’ve been shopping for three hours and you’ve only crossed one person off your list, you may need to reassess your approach. Slow down. Take it easy.
6. Ditch your perfectionism.
Perfectionism is the thing that keeps you from buying a gift until the last possible minute because nothing you found was good enough. By the time you finally choose something, you’re exhausted and stressed. If you’re a perfectionist, you think that your gift has to be the best one in the recipient’s stocking. Then you second-guess your choice till you get a migraine. All your perfectionism just irritates and upsets the people around you. Make a commitment this holiday season to check perfectionism at the door before you go shopping.
7. Think happy thoughts.
When you find yourself getting stressed and fretful, stop to smile at a stranger. Make a little joke to the store clerk. Go into the restroom and open your mouth in a silent scream–and then laugh at yourself. It’s okay that you left your shopping till the last minute. It doesn’t make you a grinch. Really. You are doing fine. Last-minute gift shopping is no fun, but it’s nothing to bust a hernia over. Keep the mood light and get on with it.
Sure, in a perfect world you would have done your holiday gift shopping months ago–but since you didn’t, the next best thing is to follow these seven tips. With any luck, you’ll get your shopping done sooner than you expected and you’ll feel more relaxed. Happy holidays!