Holiday Shopping Ideas – Tips on How to Shop Ahead, Organize & Stay Under Budget
Holiday Shopping Ideas
Though it’s only September, it’s beginning to look a lot like the holidays in stores and at my home. I shop throughout the year for holiday gifts, and I’ve developed a system for storage that ensures that I know who will be receiving what at just a glance.
Buying holiday gifts when items go on sale is a frugal option, but only when I don’t overbuy or forget where I “hid” gifts in the house.
Here are some tips to help organize your holiday shopping:
- To avoid overbuying, list family members and friends. I also make a list of teachers, coaches, and the like. I may not know all of their names early in the year, but I can guesstimate the number of teachers my kids will have. The final category is what I call “kids and hostess,” because I like to have a few extra gifts for children and a number of small “hostess” gifts ready to go for unexpected guests, holiday get-togethers or even a workplace secret Santa exchange.
- With your list of recipients in hand, or stored on a smart phone, go about your usual shopping throughout the year. When items are on sale, such as the Burt’s Bees clearance at Sears, or the summer markdowns at Williams-Sonoma, consult your list and buy.
- When you return home with the first gifts of the year, set up a storage system based on the same list of recipients:
- Family members and friends, who are likely to receive larger or multiple gifts from you, each get a labeled basket. Gifts for each of them go into those baskets or underneath, in the case of larger items.
- Teacher and coach gifts can be stored in see-thru plastic bags (which I reuse from year to year). Even before you know the teachers’ or coaches’ names, you can label them “Soccer coach 1” or “Fifth grade teacher.”
- For the final category, “extra” kid gifts and hostess items, you can use a labeled laundry basket or sturdy box.
- Throughout the year, place items large and small into these baskets and bags. When the holidays approach, glance at each basket and study each bag. For me, I note whether the items have a “theme,” and look to see what final touches each gift needs.
For example, one of my nephews will receive Williams-Sonoma Star Wars cookie cutters and a matching spatula, along with superhero sprinkles and icing (from the Target summer clearance). For him, a colorful kitchen glove might make the gifts a perfect set. Another nephew likes board games, so he’ll receive Scrabble and Jenga (Target sale items). A few of his favorite snacks will make the gift complete.
- When the gifts are complete, wrapping is easy too. Pull one basket or bag at a time to wrap and label.
- When the holidays are over, I donate any leftover kid or hostess gifts and start fresh in the new year with empty baskets and a fresh gift list.
Happy holiday shopping!
Marcia Worth Baker, NJ – LRWC Contributor
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