Christmas gift giving guide
This Christmas gift giving guide is a shopping tool that shows you how to shop, where to shop, and who you have to shop for.
With the constant hustle and bustle of the holiday season, Christmas shopping can often be a chore instead of bringing you glad tidings as the holiday season begins. This handy guide will walk you through the ins and outs of Christmas holiday gift giving, showing you how to shop, where to shop, and give you a better idea of whom you have to shop for. Using this guide as a tool for your Christmas gift giving, shopping can be fun and relaxing if you plan in advance how to shop, where to shop, and who you have to shop for.
How to shop
When learning how to shop, it is imperative that you have a list, a plan, and a budget before you begin. Begin by making a list of places that you are comfortable shopping at. Also, ask around to know where others have had great shopping experiences from in the past. Take advantage of seasonal coupons, flyers, limited time specials, offered holiday savings and markdown items. Always make sure they are not marked down because of a defect, before you purchase the item. If you are not sure, ask. Also, most major department stores will gladly tell you, if you ask them, when a particluar item is going on sale and how long that sale will be going on.
Be sure to get on your favorite stores mailing lists so that you can be one of the first customers to know of sales or specials. Search the internet for coupon sites that have manufacturers coupons, and take them with you to the appropriate store or location nearest you. Try as best as you can not to pay for coupons unless you get a really spectacular coupon book that you will really get your monies worth out of. Remember, it is not a discount if you do not need, can't, or won't use the item later.
If you know that you buy seasonal gifts every year for yourself, your household, or others, try buying holiday items after Christmas when they go on 50% or more markdowns, and stock up for the next year. Seasonal items are great gifts because seasons happen every year. Also, if you do not know the person, group, or organization that you are buying for, or the decor of someone's life or home, seasonal gifts are great, welcome and unobtrusive additions to any home. Plan at least three months ahead of time depending on how many people you are shopping for, always considering the cost and quantity of the gifts. Even the holiday season requires a bit of planning on how and where you are going to shop.
If you do not know what people want, ask them for a general idea. If they live with you, make a special effort to visit their room. If they do not live with you, visit their home for gift ideas that match their home style. See what their hobbies and interests are for gift ideas, or look at what they do for a living. Look for ideas on colors, themes, or samples of their own personal style. Remember you are not shopping for what you would like. Try not to shop for yourself unless you really want to, or that is your agreement to do. For the most part in gift giving try to stay away from animal pets unless it is for your own family members in your own home.
If you do not know what you want to receive as a gift or give as a gift, thumb through catalogs, web sites, pictures, ads, and any thing that would give you more of an idea of what would make you happy for the holiday season gift wise, remembering what you can afford. It is imperative that you have a basic gift list that you can manage.
Try to have a total budget, which would be the amount you have in mind or can only spend for the entire holiday season, and a per gift or per person amount that you can afford. That way, you do not get sucked into every passing trend, or worse, overspend. Do not forget to reward those helpful sales people that are helping your shopping experience go smoothly. In contrast, try to stay away from pushy sales people
that have to meet their sales quotas, at your expense. You can include all of your buying power mediums such as credit cards, cash on hand, savings, holiday gift money sent to you, and any bonus money or overtime pay that you want to use in your holiday shopping.
Even if you are wealthy, you still would benefit from a well thought out shopping plan. If you are on fixed income, sometimes a non elaborate fruit basket or small candy gifts you can make yourself mean a lot. Fruits and nuts are always signature items of a festive and fun Christmas. In addition, simple cards can be wonderful keepsakes, as well as rememberance letters. Write a good memory down on paper, and send it to someone you love for the holidays, because even if that is all you give, you have given a lot.
Shop when you have holiday shopping money to spend. For example, a good guideline is to shop when you get paid. If you get paid monthly, shop monthy and so on. Whenever you get paid, set aside your holiday shopping dollars, and either save them until you get the opportunity to add to them, or start shopping with what you already have on a per person or per gift amount basis. For credit cards, spend when you have paid your monthly payment, and shop according to what credit you have and how much of the available money you want to pay back. Remember that you have to pay back the amount you spend after the holidays are over. If you shop for those on your list early enough, usually you get the better deals, the first pick of the merchandise, and save a lot of money in the process. Which brings up to our next point, determining where to shop.
Where to shop
In your Christmas holiday shopping search, include everything from catalogs, lay-a-way program places, shopping malls, department stores, online websites and outlets. Most web based stores on the internet wrap gifts, and ship them straight to the receiver for you when you order them online, making gift wrapping and shipping less work for you. The internet is a great holiday gift shopping place when you do not have the spare time to go out for a Christmas holiday gift shopping experience, or want to fight the extremely busy holiday traffic. The internet aslo helps you avoid those long holiday lines at the post office when you have to mail or ship the gift out yourself.
Remember, when using internet services, make sure an item on line is in stock before ordering anywhere from three to five weeks before Christmas, to avoid unnecessary Christmas shopping delays and blunders. If you choose a lay-a-way program, make periodic checks on your merchandise to ensure that the store still has your item, preferrably when there is not a crowd of holiday stressed out mothers behind you in line.
One more thing to remember when purchasing online is to try to verify all credit card charges within a few days of your purchase to asure proper billing. Do not assume someone is out to swindle you if you get double charged for a purchase. Holiday credit card charging accidents happen, because it is a heavy business traffic time. If you do find a billing error whether it is being overcharged for an item, or not getting the sale price on your purchase, calmly call the business or the businesses customer service department. Chances are that they do not want to loose you as a customer, and will correct the error on the spot, or within a certain amount of time according to their policies and procedures. Even if you go out to do your gift purchasing, always check your receipt or credit card statement before signing it, and change you receive back on the spot. An error is easier to both spot and correct when you are standing right there in line and may save you time, unnecessary aggravation, and money.
When considering where to purchase gifts for the holiday season, don't leave out obscure shops, out of the way markets, non-traditional gift galleries, pawn shops, magazines, mom and pop shops or flea markets. Nice quality items are everywhere just waiting for you to pick and choose through them as they fit your gift giving needs, usually at a reasonable price. One tip on shopping second hand for the holidays would be to make sure if you are buying an appliance that it is actually working before you leave the store. Check all clothing pieces or other items for obvious wear and tear before you take it home because with these shops in most cases, once you buy it, it's yours.
As with any store, new or old, remember to always have safety in mind. Know your local areas that are considered safe for shopping. This advice also applies to on line stores as well. Always go to well marked and well-lighted shops. Never park far away when going to a new shop alone, unless you are familiar with the area. If you are not sure of the area, ask around. If you are still not sure, hesitate to go somewhere new or out of your own area unless you can get some kind of positive feedback on the shopping area itself. Ask your local Chamber of Commerce, or call your non emergency police station phone number located in your Yellow Pages if the new place you want to go shopping at is relatively safe before venturing out. Information is power.
As an added bonus, if you do not have all the cash or credit that you can possibly want for holiday shopping, the fun can still be in taking your time while doing the actual shopping on your shopping trip. Take time out to really absorb and enjoy the Christmas spirit when you shop. Look at the festive displays, the brightly colored array of ornaments, trees, or product showcases. Check all of your available resources such as your local radio stations, local television stations, public libraries, and any newspapers in your area for free or inexpensive events occuring around your holiday shopping trips, along with their dates and times to plan your shopping around them. Whether you are buying minimally or splurging on gifts this holiday season, take time out to enjoy the holiday ambiance.
If you are not toting the gifts home to wrap and place under the tree, until Christmas or to be given at gatherings later, you have to plan to ship or to send your gifts usually through a company that ships packages where you need them to go. Always remember that if you have to send the Christmas holiday gifts yourself, they can be shipped various ways such as Federal Express, regular postal mail, UPS, Mailboxes Etc., just to name a few. If you do not know much about shipping and how much it costs, look into it before buying. Check your Yellow Pages under shipping, packaging or mailing, your internet service provider directory or your local telephone information service. Get a piece of paper to write down on when calling so you can remember the phone number of the business in case you want or need to call them back. Write down what each of them have to offer you. Before committing to one place or price, price shipping costs such as weight, box size, boxes offered, insurances offered, gift packaging, what box fillers they use when securing your holiday gifts, and any extra amenities or guarantees they may offer.
Look for the best overall route when determining your gifts shipping needs, not necessarily the cheapest. Always ask the shipping personnel how long your package will take to arrive in the Christmas holiday season. Sometimes you can pay an extra rate to get packages there in less time. Again, if you plan where you are going to shop and how you are going to go about it, you will have half the holiday shopping battle completed. Which absolutely cannot be done without determining just who you have to shop for in the first place.
Who you have to shop for
When you make a mental list of people to shop for during the holiday season, you have a good starting point. Alas, a written list of who you are shopping for is a must have. You need less work and worry in the Holiday season, and a list of who you are shopping for will help you warmly remember why you are shopping, and who you are shopping for. You should have some kind of idea of who you need to start buying for from who you bought for last year, or who is around you this year if you are starting out new or around a new set of people. Start with the people around you, and either stop or build your list form there.
When you write down who you have to shop for, start listing family first. Next, you should list both the friends and acquaintances around you. The rule about family shopping is simple. The more members, the fewer gifts. If you have a reasonable budget, and a reasonable sized family, usually anywhere from one to ten gifts are a great deal. Outings of any kind are always nice Christmas gifts year after year. If you have too many to shop for, make a dinner, make an event or play, give one household gift for one entire family, or show them in other ways how much you care by doing a chore or showing kindness to them in the holiday season. If you have a huge extended family, you should not stress out by feeling that you have to get them each a personalized gift. That can get outrageously expensive and may create more pressure from both sides than joy if the gift is too much, or a gift is not returned. Cards are really a great way to say thank you whether they are electronic, paper, or anything in between.
When you are finished listing key family people, friends, and acquaintances, list people that you know casually that you feel responsible for getting a gift. Remember teachers, clergy, your postman, garbage men, water men, any delivery service person you are familiar with, babysitters, bosses, secretaries, dentists, doctors, patients, homeless shelters, children foster homes, food banks, your own banking center or any person, group of people, or business that have gone out of their way to show you kindness throughout the year. Anything form a gift, letter, person to person thank you or a call are just some of the ways that you can remind someone on your gift list that they are cared for by you.
Most of all remember, etiquette or not, if you do not wish to buy for someone, don't. Shop for those that you want to shop for. Don't shop for those that do not want gifts and have let everyone know ahead of time. Don't overstep gift giving boundaries. Use common sense when making your Christmas holiday shopping lists. Be prepared and appropriate. Breathe. Go shopping bearing a how to buy list, where to buy list, and a list of just exactly who you have to buy for. Hang onto your wallet, keys, kids, if any, sales savvy and bargain hunting power. Have fun. Take time out to enjoy yourself and your surroundings throughout your very own Christmas holiday gift shopping experiences.