I believe that everyone on my Christmas list deserves a great gift carefully selected just for them. But I refuse to spend every weekend in December running around a mall carrying a million bags, overheated in a winter sweater.
Every year, I do my holiday shopping in one day. Yes, you heard me. And I’m not even talking about an eight-hour day. I’m talking about leaving the mall in time for lunch somewhere that’s not a germy food court. How do I do it? By following a few key steps:
1. Make a list, with a budget and a gift next to each name.
Not only do I make a list of everyone I have to shop for (which is usually close to 20), I put down a few gift ideas for them and a budget for how much I can spend on them. This way, I’m doing most of the thinking ahead of time. If I’m stumped, I ask my husband for ideas and surprisingly, he comes up with stuff I haven’t thought of -- even for my relatives.
2. Choose your stores wisely.
Take your list and decide what stores have all or most of those gifts. Bookstores tend to have all the media you want -- and I’ve found they’re great for finding things for those hard-to-buy-for people. Target is good for electronics and home goods, and department stores have everything from clothes to cookware. I like to hit a sporting goods store for the football fans and golf enthusiasts in my life. If you really plan it out, you’ll only have to hit three to five stores for everyone.
3. Shop on a weekday morning.
Do not (for the love of all that is good) set foot in a mall on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon in December. Instead, take a day off work (earlier in the week is better) and go in the morning. Try to get everything done before lunchtime, or at the very least, before schools let out. Fewer lines mean faster shopping.
4. Don’t be afraid to shop small.
Sure, you might find great deals and a large selection at really big stores and chains, but you’ll find bigger crowds too. Don’t be afraid to shop at independent stores and boutiques (especially those you know your gift recipients love), where the goods are carefully selected and you spend less time searching through it. And remember, they have sales too.
I never try to do it all myself. Got siblings? Offer to pitch in a little extra for a group gift for your parents if your sister schlepps to the store to buy it.
Got out of work early? Head to a local store to grab a few things. Buying groceries? Pick up a few gift baskets or bottles of wine. Shopping for a new book online? Get one for a friend too. If you get a few things out of the way now, your in-store time will be much lower.
7. Teenagers? Don’t even try.
You’ll never get a teenager something he likes, so go for a gift card. Apple store, Game Stop, Sephora, Claire’s. Pick their favorite store and give them the gift of shopping. They’ll love it.
More articles from Completely You:Follow Completely You (@completely_you) on Twitter!
Elena Donovan Mauer
is Completely You’s beauty and lifestyle blogger. She has written for Self, The Knot and iVillage, and is the co-author of two books on relationships, The Good Girl's Guide to Living in Sin and Have Sex Like You Just Met ... No Matter How Long You've Been Together.
Do you double-dip at summer parties?
How much does your weight fluctuate in a year?