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Managing Your Holiday Shopping Stress

10. December 2012

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Many of us agree with the sentiment of the familiar Christmas song and eagerly anticipate the excitement, joy and spirit of the holiday season.

But let’s be honest. The holidays can also cause significant stress.  

I’ve got to admit, between the holiday parties and get-togethers, hauling boxes of Christmas decorations from the attic, addressing oodles of holiday cards and finding the perfect gifts for everyone, my Christmas joy can get buried under the weight of all the “stuff” that must be done.

Well, this year’s going to be different…starting with the biggest stressor, holiday shopping.  For once, I’m going to follow these simple stress-relieving shopping tips:

1. Know Your Budget

Much of the stress of the holiday season comes from feeling pressured to buy bigger and better gifts for those we love, even if this puts us in debt.  (Frankly, my loved ones would feel terrible if they thought I had to over-spend on their behalf.)  This year, determine what you can comfortably spend, make a budget and stick with it. “Thoughtful” doesn’t have to mean expensive.

2. Make a List

List all the people you’d like to buy gifts for and how much you’d like to spend.  Then, next to the names, list what you’d like to get each person (This is not rocket science!) Use this as a checklist and you’ll be less likely to spend too much on impulse buys or accidentally buying more than one gift for the same person.

3. Be Efficient

Try to go to only a few stores. Check your list and see how many things you can find at the same store and try to get all of your shopping done at one mall. Try to consolidate all of your shopping into one or two trips. Finish your list first and you’ll have time for some leisurely shopping…just for fun!

4. The Earlier, The Better

For those of you who postpone holiday shopping until the last minute. Don’t! Resist the urge to procrastinate.  If you shop earlier, you’ll have a better selection of gift ideas to choose from, you won’t get stuck in the last-minute rush at the malls and post office and (my personal favorite!) you’ll be able to enjoy being done with your holiday responsibilities so you can just enjoy the season. Earlier is also better when it comes to the time of day to shop.  If possible, shop in the morning.  It’s a good way to avoid crowds, find displays in better order and enjoy a less stressful atmosphere.

5. Consider Shopping Online

While there are some things many of us aren’t comfortable buying online, there a many terrific holiday gifts to be found at your computer.  Online shopping (I love “one-click” shopping at amazon.com!) is a fast, simple and efficient way to get much of your shopping done at once.  In addition to saving you fights over parking spaces and long waits in line, in many cases you can have your gifts wrapped and delivered directly to your recipients – saving you the trouble of wrapping and the visit to the post office. (Several of our friends will be receiving mouth-watering gifts from kansascitysteaks.com this year!)

By employing this seemingly simple advice, I’m now halfway through the holiday season minus the anxiety, fear and dread I often suffer this time of year! Oh…a few more tried and true tips:

1. Buy Duplicates

If you find a great gift at a great price, consider getting one for several people on your list. This is a great way to save time and money.

2. Include Gift Receipts

Ask for receipts at the register and include them with your wrapped gifts.  You’ll have peace of mind know that if the gift doesn’t work out, it can be exchanged.

3. Get Gift Cards

For giving or receiving I LOVE gift cards!  They’re available for everything from movies to massages.  They’re quick to buy and easy to send and still offer sweet sentiments to your loved ones.

4. Let the Post Office be Your Friend

No need to lug your gifts to the post office and stand in long lines anymore.  Get them to come to you!  Visit the USPS website to find out how easy it is to get a postal carrier to come to your door, pick up your packages and deliver them for you!

This year, why not join me as we enjoy the holidays more by simplifying some of the work so we can focus on what makes this time of year special: love!

Happy Holidays!



Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.