With so much to think about at Christmas time, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. I’m a perfectionist at heart, and as much as I love this time of year, there is, let’s face it, a LOT of admin required to get everything just the way I like it. It’s not just overindulging on turkey and Christmas pudding that leaves me struggling to keep my eyes open by 5 pm on Christmas Day. A calendar full of Christmas drinks and dinners with friends, end of year deadlines at work and getting all my Christmas shopping done means I’m often exhausted long before Santa’s sleigh is due to grace the skies. I recently read that stress caused by Christmas shopping can ignite our deep-rooted primal fears, even provoking a ‘fight or flight’ response in some people, so I know I’m not the only one who feels the pressure.
So this year, I’ve decided to be proactive about my approach to Christmas shopping. I was recently shocked to discover that 1 in 4 men do all of their Christmas shopping in an hour, which made me wonder why I was running around like a headless chicken for a whole month! Whilst I’m not quite organized (or foolish) enough to cram all my shopping into a single hour, I am planning to take a leaf out of their book and avoid the pre-Christmas burn-out this year, whilst saving myself precious time and (hopefully) some money.
Here’s how I plan to conquer my Christmas shopping:
Set a Date
It sounds simple but this year I have forced myself to set some time aside to do my Christmas shopping. With so many invitations for festive dinners and drinks, my calendar in December is already filling up, and I know that if I didn’t dedicate some proper time to doing my Christmas shopping, I would end up rushing to the shops in a blind panic at the last minute. I know that if I attempted to do all my shopping in 1 day I would end up buying gifts for the sake of it, so I’ve spread my Christmas shopping over 2 afternoons in the hope that I will be more productive. This is forcing me to confront the task head on, and I hope to feel satisfyingly smug when most my presents are bought and wrapped by mid-December. Of course, I’ve already picked up a few little bits and pieces that I’ve seen out and about, but the important thing is that I know that there is time for me to get the bulk of it done, so I can enjoy those festive social plans without a dark cloud hanging over my head!
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Make a Note
This might sound like organization overkill, but one technique that can save you a lot of time is to keep a note of things that your friends and family mention throughout the year. In the past, I have found that the note function on my phone is a useful place to record this, as I can easily (and subtly) update the list whenever a friend or family member has mentioned something that might be useful later without arousing any suspicions.
This tactic has been particularly effective with my other half, who will inevitably tell me that he doesn’t know what he wants when I get around to asking him in December. I’ve saved myself hours of time trying to think of the perfect Christmas gifts for him, as I have already compiled a neat little list full of inspiration. Not only that, but I am hoping to get extra brownie points for being both a good listener and extremely thoughtful. The best part about this technique is that it doesn’t just have to apply to Christmas – you’re creating yourself a little gift bank of ideas for every occasion!
One thing I have struggled with in the past is keeping track of what I have bought and how much I have spent. This year I have made a list of everyone I need to buy a gift for, and set a budget for each gift. I plan to tick items off as I buy them. This is a great way to ensure that you don’t have a nasty shock on Christmas morning when you realize that you have completely forgotten your brother’s girlfriend and are forced to speedily re-wrap one of your own presents and hope no one says anything. (Yes, this actually happened).
It is also worth tracking your spending to make sure you don’t find yourself caught short. There are some fantastic apps that are designed specifically to help you stay on top of your Christmas budget. In the past, I have found Santa’s Bag particularly useful as it tells you how much you’ve spent on each person, as well as giving you a running total of your spending.
It is easy to let Christmas shopping get on top of you with long queues, busy shopping centers and delayed delivery times all exacerbating stress levels. In the past, I have been so stressed out that I have ended up forgetting that gift-giving should be a joyful experience. This year, I am determined to change that, and hope that with a little preparation, and a few useful tricks, I can conquer my Christmas shopping once and for all! If I can do it, anyone can!