The holidays are my favourite things of the year. We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in the Netherlands, so I’m already excited for December with Christmas and New Years Eve! One of the best things to do is to buy the best Christmas gifts for your friends and family. However, the madness of buying the Christmas gifts and the expenses aren’t my favourite of the season. Today I have 5 holiday shopping tips and 5 budgeting tips to help you get through this expensive and hectic (next) month!
I am in college, I live on my own which means I don’t have a lot of money to spend on gifts. However, it doesn’t mean that I won’t be able to buy great gifts for the people around me. I feel like buying presents and the general holiday shopping is one big mind game of pressure, changes in prices and the stress and the busyness in the cities may result in you buying a gift that’s way more expensive at that time. Preparation is key.
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Let’s start with the five holiday shopping tips to ease our minds and to stop stressing about the holiday shopping. I love being in the city in this time of the year because I love the decorations and lights: but it does get busier and busier the longer you postpone the holiday shopping.
1 Know your loved ones
The first and most important factor in buying a great gift: you have to know the person to whom you’re going to give this present. I never walk around in the shops thinking about what I should give that person because it’s just an on-going struggle and you will waste time doing this.
2 Pre-think their gifts
Beforehand, I make sure that I know what I am going to give that person so I can focus on a specific item during my shopping spree!
3 Make a list of the gifts
Once you’ve decided which gift you’re going to give to your loved ones: make a list of all the items you will need. Obviously, most items are sold in multiple and different stores. It’s good to know these stores so you don’t have to search in dozens of stores to find that specific item!
4 Order online to avoid the madness
If you are like me, in the previous years, and you’re procrastinating which results in you stressing in half December not having any gifts yet, online shopping is going to be your best friend. You have the peacefulness and the time to check out every website and their collection without having a massive crowd of people around you.
5 Start shopping early
This is what I’m doing this year and to be fair: I am actually very well prepared this year. I have planned my gifts, I have made a list and I know where to buy my gifts. One thing I need to stop doing is procrastinating and start shopping early. I am going to try to buy 2/3 of my gifts during this month, November, and the rest I will buy in the beginning of December. This is great if you don’t have a lot of money to spend every month because you get to spread out your expenses over two months.
Now we have the holiday shopping under control and we know how to get prepared and make the holiday shopping as smooth as possible: let’s get on to the budget tips. As I said, the holiday season is so expensive and we can all use some budgeting tips to make it a bit less expensive.
1 Buy gifts early to avoid peak time & the increase in the prices
This kinda goes along with shopping early to avoid the crowds, but it does save you money to shop early too. Retailers aren’t stupid obviously and they know how to benefit from the holiday season. Some prices increase massively during the season and it’s such a waste of money to be honest. Some of the prices may already be increased during November, but it will definitely all become more and more expensive mid and end December.
2 Make use of Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Obviously, don’t do this if you hate the crowds. I must say, Black Friday isn’t as popular here in the Netherlands as it is in the United States. We don’t have the absolute craziness that happens in Target during Black Friday. However, it is one of the busiest shopping days but you will save a lot of money if you’re lucky enough to find your present with a discount! Cyber Monday is obviously the best option for you if you haven’t found your gift on Black Friday or if you hate the crowds!
3 “Value” your friends and family
This might sound a bit crazy, but I think it’s good to know how much you want to spend per person. It’s totally okay if you want to spend more money on a specific person. For example, I always spend more money on the gifts for my parents and sister than on the gifts for my friends!
4 Set a budget and a limit
Very important one: know how much you want to spend in total. Don’t get carried away with all the interesting presents during your shopping spree and get disappointed at home because you spend way more money than you were supposed to. The list of your presents will help because this will give you an overview of all the expenses you are going to make. If it’s too much, replace a gift with another gift that’s less expensive to save money. A cheaper gift is still going to make someone very happy, it doesn’t have to be expensive! If a gift comes from you heart and if it fits the person perfectly: he or she is going to be extremely happy and blessed anyway.
5 Get creative and make your own gifts
I’m not the most creative person when it comes to making gifts and getting creative with paint and all that stuff: but if you are, go with it! There’s no other gift that’s more personal than a self-made gift.
Your holiday season with your holiday shopping and the budgeting that goes along with your holiday shopping has hopefully become a little bit easier! Now is the perfect time to start shopping and get that perfect present for your loved ones!