While the holidays might not look the same this year, the spirit of giving does not have to change. The holidays are typically a time of increased American spending, yet there are many strategies and tactics to help you steer clear of overspending. You might want to shop differently by exploring new types of and sources for gifts while also exercising extra physical caution. Let Elements help with the following tips!
Prepare & Plan
Make a comprehensive list including a budget. Santa reportedly checks his list only twice. You'll want to check your gift list often to ensure you've included all your gift recipients with an allocated portion or range of your budget for each person. Keep the list with you, either in your wallet, purse, or on your Smartphone, and keep it updated. If you like to include people beyond family and friends, think about teachers, mail carriers and delivery drivers, healthcare providers, etc. Throughout the past couple of years especially, they have faced unique challenges.
Search for online coupons and subscribe to promotional emails for deals and flash sales. You can unsubscribe after the holidays to avoid clutter in your in-box long term. Retail Me Not is a source for the coupons.
Track pricing on large purchases. If you have pricey items on your list, shop around before you buy!
Save the Shopping Dates
- Thanksgiving - November 25: many retailers closed
- Black Friday - November 26: most retailers open with expanded hours and special prices, in-store and online.
- Small Business Saturday - November 27: a day to focus on supporting privately-owned shops.
- Cyber Monday - November 29: a day featuring online deals galore.
- Giving Tuesday - November 30: a day to make year-end gifts to your favorite nonprofit organizations.
- Free Shipping Day - December 14: a newer concept - check your favorite stores for free shipping offers.
The Secret of "Add to Cart". Before you make gift selections, allow time for a few "Add to Cart" window shopping sessions online. This is the effective tactic where you fill your cart, then you walk away to think about your purchase before you finalize it. Developing this habit will help you avoid impulse buys.
Shop Small. In addition to Small Business Saturday, keep your independent shops/websites in mind throughout the season. Especially gift cards to local retailers and restaurants (not chains) are great bets.
Recycle and Upcycle. Visit flea markets, antique stores, and vintage shops for one-of-a-kind items.
Handcrafted Options. Etsy.com is a well-known source for handmade gifts. If you have a crafty side yourself, visit Pinterest and your craft stores for inspiration. Unique ornaments and homemade treats are typically hits. And new this year - look for, make, or ask a seamstress to make fun masks customized to people's interests and personalities.
Experiences, not just things. There's a trend in gift-giving toward "bucket list activities" for loved ones. Spend your money to make priceless memories!
Gifts with a Cause. National companies such as Toms Shoes, Hand in Hand Soaps, 4ocean Bracelets, and the World Wildlife Fund are examples that provide products with a corresponding donation. Look into local opportunities, as well. Several nonprofit groups now maintain Amazon Wish Lists where you can donate things to support others in need in honor of family and friends. Contact organizations directly to inquire.
Secret Santa and White Elephant Exchanges. There's no better time to start a fun new gift-giving tradition, either safely in-person, by mail, or virtually. Give your exchanges a theme or provide personalized wish lists to help everyone narrow their choices.
Curbside Pickups for the Win! Take advantage of new curbside pickup and porch delivery options if you want to minimize your time inside stores.
Weekday Evenings for Less Foot Traffic. This will be your best in-person shopping timing to maximize social distancing.
Buy in Multiples for Efficiency. Don't hesitate to buy the same great gift for more than one person. Keep your eyes open for Buy One-Get One offers to help stretch your gift budget and get your list knocked out sooner.
The key to holiday shopping, according to most reports, is start now and get it done early. Supplies and shipping timeframes will be tighter than usual. Best of luck finding gifts that match your visions - and, most of all, savor the time you can spend with friends and family in whatever form that takes this year.
From everyone at Elements, may you enjoy a safe, healthy and happy holiday season!
Sources: Lifehack.org; Country Living