You don’t need a calendar to tell you it’s time to gear up for holiday gift giving.
The scent of pumpkin spice, the sound of holiday music, and chilly temperatures signal that it’s time once again for holiday shopping. But not everyone gets excited about searching for the perfect toy or stocking stuffer. For some, the possibility of crowded stores, long checkout lines, and limited product selection add up to one thing — loads of stress. We’re here to help.
With these five tips, you can give yourself the gift of stress-free holiday shopping:
1. Have a plan
Set a holiday spending limit before you start shopping for gifts, decorations, meals, or travel expenses. Overspending can create unnecessary post-holiday stress, and no one wants that. Create lasting memories, not lasting debt, by assigning a maximum dollar amount for each person or event on your list. If you overspend on something, cut back somewhere else.
BONUS TIP: Check out online gift guides to help find unique, low-cost ideas for friends and family who are hard to shop for.
2. Avoid the rush
Shop early to avoid crowded stores. Many merchants offer sales and specials throughout the holiday season, not just on Black Friday. And remember, the longer you wait, the more crowded the stores are going to be. Shop early in the season to avoid large crowds and ensure the gifts you want to buy are still in stock.
BONUS TIP: Contact your favorite stores and ask them about their off-peak hours or curbside service so you can avoid the crowds.
3. Shop online
While brick-and-mortar stores may offer big discounts, great buys are also available online. Even online, it’s still best to shop early so you can be sure gifts arrive on time. With e-commerce sales soaring in 2020, shopping early may also give you more options of in stock items.
BONUS TIP: Many small businesses have added online shopping this year, so be sure to check your favorite stores’ websites.
4. Shop local
Support your community by shopping at local businesses. When you’re stressed about finding the perfect gift for someone, local shops can offer unique options you won’t find elsewhere. Shopping small does not mean spending more money. Local businesses often offer specials for Small Business Saturday, as well as other specials throughout the holiday shopping season.
BONUS TIP: Many small businesses are accommodating customers with curbside pickup and online orders. Check with your favorite small businesses to see all the ways you can shop.
5. Beware of holiday shopping scams
A stolen credit card number or other forms of identity theft can send you into a panic. Even after you report an issue to your financial institution and the legal authorities, you can still have lingering concerns. Stay alert for possible scams, which often involve charity donations, temporary holiday employment, fake gift cards, and unauthorized credit card charges.
BONUS TIP: Never click on links from unknown emails or text messages that direct you to a website or tell you to download a document. If you need to visit a website, type the address into your internet browser to bypass this common phishing scam.