I know it sounds a little extreme but I’m a big advocate of starting my Christmas shopping in August. Getting all the presents bought by Thanksgiving allows me to relax over the holiday season and avoid the shopping amateurs waiting until the last second and clogging up the mall parking lots in December.
Follow this month-by month guide to have a stress-free holiday season:
August – This is a great time to start planning and thinking about who you need to buy for and what you want to get. Each year I make two lists using Evernote. One list is of everyone I exchange gifts with for Hanukkah and Christmas. I write down ideas for gifts and reference my list from last year to make sure I don’t get the person the same gift twice. The other list is of random ideas, websites and clippings of gift ideas I’ve found throughout the year with no particular person in mind. I have an ongoing “gift ideas” notebook in Evernote of fun gift ideas.
September – Take advantage of the Back to School sales and buy what you can off your list. If you’re still not sure what you want to get someone, pay extra attention to things they might mention. For example, they might love downloading music, but complain about how expensive it is. So an iTunes gift card would be perfect for that person. Also whenever you’re reading a magazine or website keep an eye out for potential presents.
October – After brainstorming in September, October is the time to take advantage of the Columbus Day sales and start buying gifts. I also collect coupon codes and subscribe to email lists so I’m the first to know when my favorite stores have sales. You should have several people checked off your list by now, but don’t stress if you don’t. Break your list up into categories and tackle it that way if it makes it easier as a smaller list is always less daunting than a long one. So chop up your remaining list by family, friends and co-workers. Then take on each mini list separately.
November – Now we’re in the final stretch and this is the time to finish what you started. Reexamine your original list and make a separate list of the people you still need to buy gifts for. Give yourself a half hour to go through your ideas folder and all the notes you’ve left yourself about what that person might like. Now commit. Then write down exactly what you’re going to get each of the remaining people. Be very specific about the gift and where you can purchase it. Then give yourself a deadline — but be realistic and make sure to give yourself time to head online or get to the mall.
Once you’ve checked off the final person from your list, you can give thanks this Thanksgiving that you started your holiday shopping August! You can now focus on eating pumpkin pie and enjoying time with your family and friends. Plus you’ll have a much more peaceful December to look forward to. Happy Shopping!