Holiday Shopping Hacks

Holiday Shopping Hacks

The holidays are coming and ’tis the season for long lines, bad traffic, crowded stores and that mad rush for the last minute gifts for the people on that “I have no idea what on Earth to get this person” part of your shopping list. This year, holiday shopping does not have to be a chore; instead, make your holiday shopping an enjoyable experience by using some creative approaches to help you find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. To get started, here are some great tips and ideas for holiday shopping that will help you de-stress the season and get something for everyone on your list that will not end up being tossed like last year’s fruitcake.

Start With a Plan of Attack:

Too many people seem to wander aimlessly through the department stores and malls of endless possibilities with out any real sense of direction and lack an actual plan before they go shopping which means they spend twice as long trying to find what they need, end up settling for something less than ideal, while spending twice as much money as they might have otherwise.

So, before you even head out to begin any of your shopping, get out a pen and paper and start some planning. To design your plan you will need two lists, one for the people that you want to really go all out for like your spouse, your children, best friend, parents, etc. The second list are for those friends and distant relatives that you want to pick up a single item for.

Under each name, jot down 3-5 words or phrases that come to mind whenever you think of that specific person. This can include hobbies they have or special interests that they may have mentioned, their favorite colors or musical interests, etc. Is your sister an artist? Does your brother love jazz? Maybe your spouse has been eying the latest “gotta have it” gadget or your daughter is way over due for a new jacket. Make a couple of simple little reminder notes next to their names so that you can make a plan of attack and know which recipients that you will be able to take care of quickly and which will require a bit of creative thinking to find the right gift for.

Get a Wish List:

Have your family and friends take some of the leg work out of shopping for you by making out a wish list of items that they have been wanting. This can be useful because it gives you ideas for things that you know the person will actually want and enjoy yet gives you enough things to choose from that the present can still be a surprise since the object of your holiday gift giving will not know which item(s) on the list you actually purchased.

Many online shops from large retailers like to specialty stores such as ThinkGeek now have an easy to use wishlist feature that will allow users to create a wish list of their favorite items and share the list with friends and family. Create one for yourself and encourage everyone on your list to do the same to dramatically reduce your shopping time and help you avoid the over crowded stores. This is also a great way to insure that you get the right sizes when buying clothing, jewelry or other size specific items.

Assemble a Custom Made Gift Basket:

If you are having trouble finding that perfect big item gift for someone, or several someones, on your list you might want to opt for a custom made gift basket full of several smaller items instead. These are great for those hard to shop for friends and family. If you know what that special person on your list is really into you can make a themed basket that is tailor made just for them with simple items that will not have you running all over town. Here are a few great examples:

  • Have an artist on your list? Make an art supply gift basket full of brushes, paints, sketch pads, pencils, or other supplies for their medium of choice. You can also get creative with the
  • “basket” itself by using a unique container that you decorate yourself or even by arranging all of the supplies in a handy art box that can also become part of the gift.
  • Luxury Bath Gift Baskets are perfect for those overworked moms or stressed out college students on your list who would appreciate some relaxing time for themselves. Fill your basket with wonderfully scented bubble baths, luxury soaps, moisturizers, candles, and relaxing CD’s to help them create a wonderful spa like escape right in their own bathtub.
  • What about the cook on your list? You can make a great gift basket with exotic spices, recipe books, or the latest cooking gadgets and a custom apron assembled in a handy carry all to give your favorite cook some useful and thoughtful items under their tree this year.
  • Gift baskets just for bookworms- Sometimes the bookworm can be one of the most difficult people to shop for because while you may know that they are really in to books, if you do not know what genre they are interested in or which books they may already have you could end up buying a duplicate book or one that they simply do not find appealing. So, if you are not sure which book is on your bookworm’s wishlist this holiday season throw together a great gift basket designed just for them with bookmarks, a book light, a reading lap desk, and even a gift certificate to your local bookstore.
  • Gifts for Geeks: If you have a computer addicted friend or self proclaimed geek on your gift list this year you may be at a loss as to what to get them if you can not afford the latest high tech gadget of the year, but fear not, there are still a lot of great items that you can use assemble a gift basket made just for geeks! You can assemble a gift basket full of flash drives, unique pencil sharpeners, and quirky t-shirts that any member of geekdom would love to have.
  • Unusual Gift Basket Ideas: Is there a vampire lover on your list or someone with more of a dark gothie side? Get creative and you can come up with some great and unique gift basket ideas for those who walk on the darker side. Make a gift basket filled with gothic purple and black (or red and black) candles, stylish gothic jewelry, or even a unique bottle of vampire wine.
  • Need a gift for the health and fitness buff that is near and dear to your heart this holiday season? Throw together a gift basket filled with a pedometer, dumbbell weights, a great pair of tennis shoes, an assortment of health food snacks, a yoga mat, jump rope, inflatable gym ball, or other great health and fitness gear that that special person will enjoy while getting rid of those extra holiday pounds.

Think Outside of the Box…or the Planet:

There are several unique and novelty gifts that you can give for a fun and non-traditional sort of surprise to make this holiday season more interesting such as naming a star for your loved one or buying a tiny little spot of land in Scotland for your beloved who can then hold the title of Lady or Lord. These novelty sort of gifts can be a fun and interesting way to let someone know that you were thinking about them for the holidays and give them a great conversational piece for years to come.

Plan for the Holidays for Next Year:

Once all of your regular holiday shopping is over, do not forget to return afterwards for all of the post holiday clearance sales which can be a great way for you to stock up on holiday decorations, wrapping paper, Christmas lights, etc. that you will need for next year. By buying them during the clearance season you will not only save yourself quite a bit of money but you will also be a step ahead for next year and have all of those odds and ends out of the way before the holiday rush starts.

Regardless of what you choose for your holiday gift giving, remember to start early and have a plan before you start shopping. Be creative and let the personality of the person you are buying for lead the way on your gift giving scavenger hunt and you can get holiday shopping done in no time.