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5 Ways to Take the Stress Out of Christmas Shopping This Year


I love to share advice and tips gleaned from my own experiences.

Simplify your Christmas-shopping process with these five tips.

Simplify your Christmas-shopping process with these five tips.

This year, Christmas shopping will be a little bit different for many of us. Due to the current global climate, some of us are not in a position to do many of the things that we would normally do in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

One of the things that will differ this year for some of us will be the way we do our Christmas shopping. While a lot of people will probably order gifts online or take advantage of stores offering services like click-and-collect, many of us will probably try to stay local and support businesses in our own community.

It’s also probably better to start your Christmas shopping a bit earlier this year than you normally would because you will want to avoid being in long queues or waiting for deliveries that might take longer than they normally would.

Here are five things you can do in advance this year to help take the stress out of your Christmas-shopping process.

5 Tips to Simplify Your Holiday Shopping Process

  1. Find out what they want
  2. Make a list
  3. Start early
  4. Study the stores
  5. Plan your route

1. Find Out What They Want

If your family doesn't do Kris Kringle, then you probably have a few people to buy gifts for. But if you are one of those people who hates having to guess what other people want for Christmas, then you probably want people to give you some ideas about the types of gifts they might enjoy.

It actually takes a lot of stress out of Christmas shopping to just asking people what they want. Some people might hate this approach, but for some of us, it’s the best thing ever.

Another way to approach this is to use the four-gift rule method, which was a trend that cropped up on social media as a way to reduce the number of gifts given but increase the quality.

Ask people in person what they want for Christmas or send them an email requesting suggestions for these four areas. The four areas you want them to give you suggestions for are

  1. Something they need
  2. Something they want
  3. Something to read
  4. Something to wear

The aim of this approach is that you'll only buy one or two items under each heading. That way, the recipient will still be getting a surprise, but their gifts will be things that they are sure to use and enjoy.

1. Something they want2. Something they need3. Something to wear4. Something to read

Alcohol or WIne

Google Nest

Shoes or Slippers

Subscription to magazine

Technology Gift—Laptop, Tablet, Smart Watch

DIY tools

Scarf, Hat, or Gloves

Subscription to online newspaper

Tickets to Sporting Events or Music Concert

Cell Phone

Fleece or Jumper


Subscription to online Streaming Provider

Health or Beauty item

Sweatshirt or T-shirt


Use Pinterest, Excel, or a notebook to record Christmas gift ideas.

Use Pinterest, Excel, or a notebook to record Christmas gift ideas.

2. Make a List

There are some things you can do to make your Christmas shopping a little less stressful than it normally would be, and one of those things is to start making a list of gift ideas in October. It might seem early, but with Cyber Monday and Black Friday only a few weeks away, the sooner you have a list of gift ideas put together, the better.

Set Up a Pinterest Board

If you have a Pinterest account, set up a secret board in your account, then set up sub-boards for each person you have to buy Christmas gifts for. Every time you see an item on a website you think the person would like or find one of the items from their four-gift list, you can post the link from the store's website into your Pinterest account. Then you can buy the item online at a later date or when you get time to drive into your town or the city.

Similarly, when you are out doing your grocery shopping, if you see something in one of the store windows that they want or that you think would be a good gift idea, take a picture of the item and upload it onto your Pinterest app. Remember to post the name of the store where you saw the item as well as the floor and section of the store that it was in if you went inside the store in the description section when you upload the photo. This will make it easier to find it later on if you aren’t going to buy it at that time.

Set Up an Excel Spreadsheet

If you like using Excel, then you can use a spreadsheet to organize your Christmas-shopping list. List out who the gifts are for at the top of the spreadsheet. List the item as well as the store name, store address, and the price of the item across from the gift idea. If it was online, include a link to the website page.

Storing all of this information now will make it easier when you go Christmas shopping in your town or the city at a later date. You can plan what area of town you want to visit according to how many shops are close to that locality.

Make a Christmas-shopping list using excel.

Make a Christmas-shopping list using excel.

Use a Notebook

If you don’t like using Pinterest or Excel, then just use a notebook. But make sure that you keep it hidden in your car or handbag so that people cannot see it. You can use it in the exact same way as you would Excel and Pinterest. Write the name of the person you have to buy presents for on the top of the page, then write the items, store names, and locations for each item.

3. Start Early

It might seem crazy to start thinking about your Christmas shopping toward the beginning of October, but if you start your shopping early, you will finish before the crowds really start to accumulate in shops and stores.

Sometimes, people drop ideas or hints for gifts that they want accidentally during a conversation with you during the year. If someone mentions to you that they saw an item that they liked in a store or online, take note of what it was that they mentioned and check it out later. Then save the website link or photo onto your Pinterest board, Excel spreadsheet, or notebook.

Start following the Facebook or Instagram pages of stores in your locality, as they will often put up posts in advance of upcoming sales or when Christmas gifts will be coming into the store. This way, you know in advance when sales will be, and you can check out items you might like to buy.

4. Study the Shops

Before you visit a shop, phone or check out their website to see if they have the items that you want in their store. If they offer a click-and-collect service, try to get the item delivered to the store on the day that you plan to do most of your Christmas shopping. This means that you avoid an unnecessary trip into town for one or two items.

The whole idea of setting aside one day for a portion of your Christmas shopping in one area of town is to try to get the majority of your shopping done to reduce the amount of time you have to be in each store.

Also, if a store offers free delivery when you spend a certain amount online, try to get as many items as you can from their website. This will help you save on shipping at checkout.

5. Plan Your Route

When the time comes to start your Christmas shopping, your Excel list or notebook will come in handy. Use the following procedure to make your shopping experience as quick and efficient as possible.

  1. Look at the locations of the stores that you need to get your gifts from.
  2. Next, write out the addresses of all the stores and try to put them in order of where they are located in each area of town.
  3. See if you can walk between each of the shops that are in the same general location.
  4. If they are further apart and require you to drive to them, then try to find a car park close to the area where you can try to do the shopping in two trips at most.
  5. Once you have this list organized, check out the opening and closing times of each shop and visit the one that closes the earliest first.
  6. Start early to avoid queues and crowds.

Happy Shopping!

Christmas shopping can be a very time-consuming task and can be very frustrating if it takes a lot of your time. While some people leave it to the last minute, it's always better to get it done early to avoid the stress of not being able to get what you want.

Most of us want to avoid being in crowded areas and try to get in and out of stores as quickly as we can. Having a list and knowing where everything is makes your shopping a lot more efficient.

If you cannot get into town and decide to use online shopping, it is good to try to shop locally so you can support home-grown businesses. Online shopping is a very fast and efficient way to get stuff, but shipping can take longer if it is a busy time of the year. If you're worried about shipping time, buy your items in advance or get them delivered straight to the recipients' houses. Good luck!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Sp Greaney


Sp Greaney (author) from Ireland on October 27, 2020:

@ Mary Norton, me too. It can be good if you are trying to keep to a budget. Many people don't have a lot of surplus cash these days.

@Abby Slutsky, yes, that's the one think that's annoying about shopping in towns and cities during busy periods. More people will probably do it online this year.

@Pretti, yes. It's all about prioritising your time as best as you can.

@Lakshmi, yes, a lot of people will go online this year. But hopefully their local businesses will have a presence on there. I hope people don't rely on Amazon for everything. We need to support local to keep our small to medium size businesses open.

@Danny, yes, and it is also a great way to look back on past gifts as well as future gift ideas. I have one for birthdays as well and I put suggestion in throughout the year.

Danny from India on October 27, 2020:

This is a nice piece of information on Christmas shopping. I liked the excel worksheet method which lets you know where you are going northwards.

Lakshmi from Chennai on October 26, 2020:

Hi Sp Greaney, Well planned but online shopping is better than going out in this pandemic situation.

Preeti from India on October 26, 2020:

Planning the route is quite interesting.

Abby Slutsky from America on October 26, 2020:

You have some excellent ideas. I will probably be an onliner this year, but at least I won't have to spend a lot of time looking for parking.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on October 26, 2020:

I really like the four gift rule ideas. It's clear and very useful. I like to buy what I like myself and I see which of these would be great for those I need a gift for. My gift drawer is getting full, ready for Christmas.

Sp Greaney (author) from Ireland on October 26, 2020:

@Maren Elizabeth Morgan, thank you. It's a great way to start early and gets bargains as soon as you can.

@Virginia Allain, yes, I think so too. The day of people having surplus cash at Christmas will be over for many families. But a one gift rule should be the new norm going forward if they are able to afford it. A lot of our local stores unfortunately don't have websites so you have to actually go to them. The best thing about WFH is not having to do gift exchanges at work so that's one less worry and expense for employees.

Maren Elizabeth Morgan from Pennsylvania on October 25, 2020:

Love your gift rule chart.

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on October 25, 2020:

I think a lot of people are going to be cutting back on gift-giving this Christmas season. If you are out of work, you don't have the money to spend. If you are being careful about Covid, you'll stay out of the stores. If you are working at home, you don't need to exchange office gifts.

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