Christmas Shopping the Smart Way

Young with shopping bags and christmas treeWe’re just a few short weeks from the Christmas panic.  You know the time 5 days or less before Christmas when even more people hit the shopping mall in droves frantically scrambling for presents?  People who wait this long usually aren’t shopping for the perfect gift; instead, they’re just looking to give ANY gift so the people in their lives will know that they care.

If you want to avoid chaotic scenes like this, take steps now to buy the perfect gift and avoid the last minute holiday scramble.

1.  Use the Internet.

The Internet is the perfect tool in your holiday shopping arsenal.  You can shop anytime you’d like, whether that be midnight or 5 a.m., and you can do it from the comfort of your couch.  No need to worry about store hours or the rush of people you have to push through!  Plus, if you shop up until two weeks or more before Christmas, you can be sure that your present will reach the recipient on time.

With more and more online stores offering free shipping (and often lower prices than those you can find in brick and mortar stores), shopping online is often the easiest, quickest way to knock out your holiday shopping.

If you are going to shop online, try to use a credit card.  A credit card can protect you and your purchases thanks to Section 75.  (For a full explanation, see this handy guide:  http://www.totallymoney.com/guides/section-75-consumer-credit-act/).  Debit cards offer some protection, but credit cards offer the most protection in the event that your item is lost or damaged in shipping.

2.  Consider gift cards.

You may think that gift cards are a boring gift, but your recipient might welcome gift cards, especially if they can be used for a multitude of items.  Think a Visa gift card or an Amazon gift card so the recipient can use the card for anything he or she would like.  Where gift cards often miss their target is when they are for one particular store that the person may not even like to shop at.  You can’t go wrong with a Visa gift card or an Amazon one, though.

3.  Ask others for suggestions.

If you don’t know what to buy for someone, ask those close to the person.  If you have a niece you want to buy a gift for but don’t know what she likes, ask her parents.  They’ll probably be able to give you plenty of ideas.  If you have a friend you don’t know what to buy for, ask another one of her close friends or her husband.

You may feel bad that you don’t automatically know what to buy, especially if you’re close to the person, but asking others for suggestions is better than getting a gift that seriously misses the target.

4.  Consider the gift of experience.

By the time many adults reach their 40s, buying gifts for them gets increasingly difficult.  After all, they likely have everything they need, and if they don’t, they can buy it.  Rather than buying them more stuff, consider giving them a gift of an experience.

If your mother has always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon, why not pay to make that happen?  Unlike other gifts you may buy her, she’ll never forget a gift that is an experience, especially if it’s something she’s wanted to do for a long time.  There are websites that can help you buy experience gifts, or you can directly make the arrangements yourself.

Finding the perfect holiday presents isn’t easy, especially if you wait until the last minute.  Instead, begin shopping now for the perfect present or experience.  Then, in the two weeks before Christmas, you can relax, knowing that your shopping is all done while others are still scrambling to complete theirs.  That’s Christmas shopping the smart way!


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