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Like it or not this week begins the Christmas shopping season, with Thanksgiving overshadowed by ads for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Before you get caught up in the sense of urgency to buy, and suffer from financial regret afterwards, take a few steps to keep your shopping sane – without taking the fun out of the season.

Set Your Limit

Make a list of all the family, friends, teachers, coaches, and party hosts you want to buy for and what you want your entire holiday to cost before you’re in a store humming holiday music or on the computer with THIS DEAL WON’T LAST! flashing in your face.  We all wish money was no object when it comes to finding the right gift, but regardless of our income the reality is we need to have some financial guidelines in place before we’re surrounded by emotional triggers, so we aren’t shocked by credit card balances at the end of the season.

Think More Than You Shop

Spend more time thinking about your gift recipients’ interests, activities, and their current life situation before you begin browsing online or walking through stores.  More time spent upfront thinking about your recipient will help you come up with a gift that really makes them happy regardless of the price and might even involve giving a gift of your time vs. money.  I wrote about my family’s gift to my parents three years ago in my Don’t Have a Perfect Holiday blog, and it’s become something we all look forward to now.

Check Out Your Options

Once you’ve pinned down who you want to buy for, how much you want to spend, and have a general idea of what you’re looking for, take advantage of online resources before you buy.  The usual suspects are not always the least expensive sources.  I recently searched for a few kitchen items for my daughter and was surprised to see that Bed Bath and Beyond was cheaper than Amazon for the things I wanted, and I could still get them with free shipping.  Comparing prices has gotten much easier online, and there are browser extensions and other tools you can use to save even more that are described in this recent NY Times article How to Shop Smart on Black Friday (and Cyber Monday). 

Before you get caught up in the Christmas shopping rush, take a breather and spend your Thanksgiving thinking about all the things you and your loved ones already have to be thankful for, and you might find there’s much less to buy than you think.

We here at TAAG wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!