Only 82 shopping days until Christmas: Are you finished shopping?
Yes, I am well aware that today is October 3rd. Yes, my question is serious. No, I have not lost my mind.
According to a new survey from CreditCards.com, 1 million people have already finished their shopping.
For the holidays.
For gifts that won’t be unwrapped for 80-ish days.
Now, before you start giving me the stink eye, I am not one of these million people, I’m not sure who they are, and I don’t know if I should roll my eyes or be envious. As for me, I have not yet begun to truly wrap my head around all things Christmas 2016. I have, however, tucked away one or two gifts that I plan to give, so I probably am one of the estimated 34 million people who have already started shopping.
Holiday decorations and gift displays seem to make their way into stores earlier and earlier each year. For those of us who prefer our holidays one at a time, it’s a bit annoying. But I understand why some people choose to begin organizing and shopping ahead of time. As this Forbes article by Maya Kachroo-Levine explains, starting your Christmas shopping early helps spread out spending.
So in October, and even November, what should you do if you’re not ready to go all in on your holiday shopping but you want to feel like you’re making some progress?
Here are my suggestions of things you can do each week leading to Thanksgiving and Black Friday to make your upcoming holiday shopping feel less burdensome. It really won’t take much, I promise.
This Week – 8 weeks out: Update your own wish list
People will ask what’s on your list. When put on the spot, you won’t know what to tell them. Create a list with just 5 things that are useful, wanted, and/or needed, and you’ll be ahead. Then, I suggest that you continue to add to your list as the weeks go by, especially when shopping for others. That’s when I always seem to get great gift ideas for myself. I’m willing to bet that I’m not alone!
And don’t forget to do the same for your kids and pets (yes…I know many a fur baby with their own wish lists).
Next Week – 7 weeks out: Make a list of family and friends you’ll be shopping for
If you’re using Giftster, make sure your family members are in your group so you can share wish lists. If there are people not on Giftster, send them an invite to join your group. And if they still don’t use Giftster, make sure that they’re somewhere on your list where you won’t forget them (speaking from experience, folks).
2 Weeks from now – 6 weeks out: List everyone else that you have to give gifts to
Each year, it seems like I forget someone. This is the week to remember those someones: teachers, service professionals you regularly see, co-workers, etc. This is another list that you can add to as the weeks pass and you remember one or two more that may have slipped your mind.
3 Weeks from now – 5 weeks out: Set your budget
Take the lists from the last 2 weeks and decide how much you will spend on each person or category of people (family, friends, co-workers, etc.). Make sure to consider the shipping charges in your budget if you plan to online or catalog shop.
4 Weeks from now – 4 weeks out: Update your gift preference profile
It’s a great idea to take a look at your preferences if you haven’t updated them since last year. I just did this myself. I was certain that nothing needed to be changed. And then I realized that my shirt size has changed and that I didn’t list that I was allergic to sea salt. The sea salt thing might be a bit important.
5 Weeks from now – 3 weeks out: A little list perusing
If you haven’t had a chance to add more items to your wish list, this would be a good week to do it. You’ll see more ads for upcoming sales, new books will be released, new products will be hitting the market. This is also a great week to look at others’ lists and reserve items that you want to give them. You don’t have to start shopping if you don’t want to, but you can make sure that others won’t snatch up the gifts you’d like to give (mwahaha!).
6 Weeks from now – 2 weeks out: Order or purchase Christmas cards, wrapping paper, tape, etc.
Some may recommend that you do this earlier than 2 weeks before Thanksgiving but this timing seems to work best for me. And don’t forget the tape. I always seem to forget the tape. And the gift labels. And the bows. And stamps. Good golly…STAMPS! I should put these down on my calendar and shopping list now before I forget.
7 Weeks from now – 1 week out: Set up your Secret Santa gift exchanges
My FAVORITE new feature on Giftster is our Secret Santa generator. All a group coordinator needs to do is list out the draw rules, select who’s participating, choose exclusions (such as Fred cannot draw his wife, Wilma) or select the same exclusions if you used Giftster to coordinate a past exchange, and press save. BOOM! Check that off the list! Your names will be drawn and it will be a complete secret to everyone, including the coordinator. And, best yet, it will all be finished before your family starts planning their Black Friday shopping excursions.
8 Weeks from now – Thanksgiving Week: Be thankful! It’s Thanksgiving!
And if you’re a Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopper, scope out deals for the items on your shopping list. But seriously, focus on the family and give thanks for having another year together.
Holiday shopping and gift giving is a marathon, not a sprint. You can pace yourself by slowly prepping for the crunch while still enjoying each holiday one at a time, just as it should be.