I have a small gift list, so this is easy for me, but each year, I try to get my gift shopping done before Thanksgiving. The benefits of shopping early are many!
- Shopping is easier. The merchandise selection is definitely best in November. If you are buying things like stocking stuffers, scented candles, holiday cookies, decorations, lights, gift wrap, cards, special toys, or holiday novelty items, you definitely want to shop early, because these items are not always restocked. And it saves wear and tear on you, because you don’t have to drive around from store to store, looking for items.
- You save money. If you are shopping when you have plenty of time and are relaxed, you will be less likely to make those impulse choices that cause you to go over your budget.
- You enjoy the magic of the holidays more. Not having to worry about shopping means a lot less stress. Our holidays are about cooking, decorating, celebrating, movies, window shopping, reading special Christmas stories, and going to special events, like concerts and Christmas tree lightings. Shopping doesn’t really come into it. So I feel like my holiday experiences are more meaningful now that they are not so focused on shopping.
- There are fewer crowds. Not only is shopping a more pleasant experience, but the salespeople are more likely to help you and it’s easier to find a parking space.
- It helps keep you from getting sick during the holidays. You know respiratory illnesses increase in the colder months. You are more likely to catch a flu or cold when exposed to crowds, and plenty of people shop while sick. Nothing is worse than being sick at Christmas, so after Thanksgiving, I try to avoid indoor crowds.
Of course, it is fun to shop during the holidays. I have a few strategies for feeling the excitement without feeling the stress and remorse associated with impulse spending…
Window shopping after the stores close. I like to walk through Old Town Alexandria and look at the display windows after dark. They’re beautiful and it feels like shopping without buying anything.
Going to a Christmas store to buy a special ornament. Another way I get my holiday shopping fix during the holidays is to visit a Christmas themed store — like the Christmas Mouse in Williamsburg, Merrifield Garden Center in Merrifield, or The Christmas Attic in Alexandria. It feels special and exciting to shop in these places, and if I buy one or two ornaments for family member gifts, I’m not breaking my budget.
How about you? Are you an early shopper, like me? Do you love the bustle of December shopping? Or are you one of those “Eek, it’s Christmas Eve!!!” shoppers? 🙂