How To Shop For Christmas Gifts
By Steve Hawker
Okay. Christmas is coming, fast. It's time
to panic. After all, you don't want to relive last Christmas Eve. There
you were, at ten to five in the evening, standing in a large department
store, with two gifts still to buy and a distinct shortage of cash. 'Never
again!' you said at the time. Remember?
Here is a rough guide on how to shop for Christmas gifts:
1. Decide how much you can really afford to spend. Now, take 10% off that
figure for extras, like wrapping paper, ribbon, bows, tags etc. Then,
divide the sum remaining by the number of people you will probably buy
gifts for. Redistribute the money, so that you allocate more to close
friends and relatives and less to distant ones. You now have a rough
2. Identify whom, exactly, you are going to exchange gifts with. There are
few things worse in life than receiving a Christmas gift from someone when
you have not bought anything for them in return. The slight embarrassment
of determining this important fact early on is much better than the bigger
embarrassment later. Refine your budget accordingly.
3. You may agree with some friends and relatives that a gift exchange is
not necessary. This might help both of you significantly. Perhaps they are
less well-off than you are, or less mobile. Where such agreements are
possible, refine your budget accordingly.
4. Try to agree some financial boundaries with all those who you do
exchange gifts with. Again, put your embarrassment aside and agree with
Aunt Flo' not to spend more than x on each other, an amount that both you
and she can afford. Gain, and give, a strong commitment not to exceed the
agreed amount, under any circumstances. Again, refine your budget
5. Do ask indirectly, sometimes directly, what recipients would like to
receive as gifts. Every year, millions of unwanted gifts are bought and
given. Many end up in attics, charity shops or landfill sites. In return,
do drop hints and tell friends and relatives directly what you would like
in return. This process need not dilute the gift exchange experience. By
allowing some scope for choice, it should enhance it.
6. Now, the hard work begins, especially for those who seem to have
everything they need, and don't know what they'd like either. Well within
the budget for that person, write down ideas over several days. Think
about their lifestyle, hobbies and interests. Avoid cliché presents that
might imply little real care about the recipient when you give it. Write
down things that they will use every day.
7. Start your shopping early. Contrary to popular belief, September is not
too early. Indeed, some seasoned gift-givers shop for Christmas gifts all
year round and squirrel them away in hiding places until December. They
even buy gifts for next Christmas in the preceding January sales and
during summer special offers.
8. Shop around online, at least in the first instance. Without expending
any shoe leather, this will enable you to establish price and
availability. Visit product comparison sites first, rather than the sites
of likely, or your favorite, retailers. You might find that less
well-known suppliers offer you better deals. If you do find good deals, go
ahead and buy online! Did you really want to trudge around cold, damp
shopping centers only to find higher prices and lower stock levels?
9. Do buy offline any Christmas-related items, including gifts, which
require a multi-sensory approach to purchase. It's difficult to be
prescriptive here, but you may need to judge first hand the smell of a
real tree, the sound of a bell, the taste of a cheese or the feel of a
fresh holly wreath. Also look in local shops for specialties not yet found
on the Internet.
10. Well before the big day, wrap and hide your presents with care. You
can now rest assured that you've bought your loved ones gifts that they
will appreciate, at prices you can realistically afford, without any
last-minute panic buying. Go ahead and give your gifts, when the time is
right, with minimal risk of embarrassment or disappointment. Do not forget
to send your bank manager a Christmas card too. He or she will be so
pleased that you have spent wisely.
Happy Christmas, everybody!
About the Author:
© Steve Hawker 2005. All rights