A Sensible Guide To Holiday Shopping
While we might complain about Christmas decorations popping up before Halloween has even passed, if you have a long list of people to buy for, it's really never too early to plan your holiday shopping. Let us help you through the busy buying season with a few useful approaches.
Don't Binge Shop
With our hectic schedules, it's tempting to try and get all the holiday shopping done as soon as possible, maybe even cramming it all into one weekend. The problem is, when you rush to finish early, you may miss out on better buys and end up spending way too much. Start early, but take it a little bit a time. Look around at stores that you may be going to anyway. You'll be surprised how many great gifts you might find on your weekly grocery stop. And if you allow yourself more time to look around, you're more likely to find that perfect gift for that special someone.
Buy Big For Wrap And Tags
In the rush of getting ready, a low-priced roll of gift wrap or package of gift tags might seem like a steal. But be sure to look at how long the roll is or how many tags you're actually getting. With gift wrap, your budget will usually be better served if you buy large quantities. Fortunately, it's easy to find big wrap and tag sets that are as cute as they are affordable. And seasonal designs never go out of style, so what you don't use on gifts this year will come in handy the next.
The Right Spirits For The Season
Wine and spirits always make welcome gifts, especially during the holidays when we have so many gatherings for friends, family and co-workers. But do your homework before you lay out some big bucks at the liquor store. There are excellent wines available at very low prices that even impress true oenophiles (now you can use that word and impress your friends!). And try and get a feel for the kind of wine or other liquor that your intended recipient really enjoys. If he or she is perfectly happy with the deal-of-the-week at the local grocery store, there's no point breaking the bank.
Little Things Mean A Lot
There are those people for whom bigger is always better and certain special occasions may demand the grand (and pricey) gesture. But more often, it really is the thought that went into the present that delights the recipient. A few stocking stuffers of a friend's favorite candy or snack will always be appreciated. So will handmade items, small collectibles related to a person's hobby or special interests, or mementos of a treasured time in his or her life. And everybody loves a good laugh, so a couple of funny books might make the season brighter than the most expensive apparel.
Shop During "Off Hours"
Because most of us have larger blocks of free time on the weekends, that's when we tend to do our shopping. But jam-packed malls and packed parking lots can make weekend shopping a real headache. Try breaking it up with a couple of short stops after work. You might also find the shops pleasantly uncrowded an hour or so before closing time. And avoid those lunchtime shopping sprees. Too many others are getting their breaks at the same time to make that a good alternative. If you're an early bird, getting to stores as they open can make weekend shopping more palatable. Just don't do it on "Black Friday" unless you really love a manic scene!
Food Is Always Festive
Whether bringing your own baked goods or a selection of yummy packaged appetizers from the local gourmet grocery, holiday revelers will always be pleased with the gift of good eats. And for the dedicated home chefs you know, new appliances, utensils and accessories are a great choice for presents they will actually use. There are also many holiday-themed "foodie" favorites available that can help you set the table for a successful yuletide.