Seasonal Shopping Shortcuts

Have you looked at the calendar recently?  You may have been so absorbed in your schoolwork—so disciplined and focussed—that you overlooked how quickly time is passing.  It’s time to raise your head from your textbooks and count the days until Christmas.  If you need to get any seasonal shopping done, it’s time to start thinking about it now.

Shopping can add to seasonal stress, especially for busy students.  Here are a few strategies to avoid a gift-giving meltdown:

Start with a list.  It sounds almost too simple but this is a crucial step.  A list is the first step of your shopping plan and will keep you focussed.  Save your memory energy for exams!  List everyone you need to buy a gift for and approximately how much you plan to spend on each.  As you make purchases, enjoy the satisfaction of checking each person off your list.

Divide and conquer.  Can you recruit anyone else to help?  Even if you’re the primary shopper of the household, delegating some of the work will save you time.  Put your spouse in charge of getting one of the kids’ gifts.  Put the kids in charge of buying Grandma’s.  Removing one or two gifts from your to-buy list will make the whole shopping chore easier.

Think “theme”.  You can get most of your shopping done in one store if you select an imaginative gift theme.  This could be the year that everyone gets funky socks that match their hobbies.  Or go for themed purchases of hats, tote bags, books, kitchen gadgets, bedding, electronics gear, whatever.  The options are endless.  Select a theme, find a store, and conquer most of your shopping in one visit.

Go local.  You can buy many of your gifts in one place while supporting local artisans.  Find local makers of alpaca-wool socks, handmade soap, cheese, wine, chocolate, or beer.  If you’re short on ideas, visit a craft show where local artisans market their wares.  If you buy many gifts from one vendor, you might be able to negotiate a discount.

Gift cards are gifts too.  Even if you normally eschew gift cards, they could wrap up your shopping in minutes.  Take your shopping list to the gift-card display at your local supermarket or drugstore.  Select cards for coffee shops, restaurants, retailers, or service providers that best match your recipients’ tastes.  Load them up at the checkout, and your shopping is done.  While a downside of gift cards is everyone will know how much you spent, one upside is wrapping will be a snap.

If you’re buying gifts for family, friends, co-workers, clients, neighbours, teachers, babysitters and/or dog-groomers, the shopping stress can add up.  Don’t let 2017 be the Year of the Meltdown.  Invest some time to develop your shopping strategy, and shop like you study:  disciplined and focussed.

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