It’s time to start planning for the holidays! If you’re a big planner – or if you’re a big last-minute shopper – you’ll hopefully appreciate my Christmas shopping tips for maximizing the months leading up to the holidays, so you aren’t scrambling at the last minute.
This will also make it easier for you to take advantage of big retail sale days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday!
Christmas shopping tips: Three months out from Christmas:
Make a list of everyone who you want to purchase a gift for.
You do not need to know what you’re getting for all of these people, but by September 25, I recommend knowing exactly who you’re shopping for this year. Of course, there will be a few last minute additions! That’s a given. But if you go ahead and picture who you’re shopping for, you’ll start to think about gifts for them, too. Then, you can pick things up as you go, and write things down as you think of them.
Build your master gift list.
This goes hand in hand with knowing who you’re shopping for, but it’s also time to build your master gift list! Whether you prefer paper or digital, go ahead and build it out. Have space to track recipients, gifts and amount spent / amount budgeted. That way, you will not forget come December that you already bought your spouse or child their dream present in October in a fit of inspiration and buy it a second time.
We’ve all been there.
Buy some basic gift wrap supplies.
Take advantage of the school supply section in late August and early September. Stock up on new scissors, pens for writing gift labels, fresh tape and other school supply basics that are also useful for wrapping gifts. Obviously, this won’t help you with purchasing actual wrapping paper, but it will take some of the load off.
Christmas shopping tips: Two months out from Christmas
Identify your budget.
In October, I recommend taking a minute to think about how much you’re intending to spend on the Christmas season. Instead of December meaning a huge credit card statement in your household, you can start chipping away at your list early with your budget in mind.
Keep your master list in hand!
Pick out (and buy, if you want) the easy gifts.
There are a few people who are easy to shop for. My goddaughter and her brother, for example, are seven and eight respectively. That is a fun and easy thing to shop for! Bonus: If you know the gifts are unlikely to go on sale, you can go ahead and order them, getting ahead of yourself.
Christmas shopping tips: One month out from Christmas
Write your own list.
Maybe this will stop one day, but for now, I still have a few family members (and Patrick!) who want to know what’s on my own personal Christmas list. I make sure to take some time in November to write this list out and distribute it to anyone who asked. I used to feel weird about it but I realize that for a lot of people, it is way more meaningful to buy you something you want than to take a huge guess.
My birthday is also in November, so I get this done pretty early in the month so everyone can knock it all out. I also send it to Pat, my mom and his mom all at once, so they can coordinate between each other.
Finish your gift purchasing list.
You should have your master gift list filled out with your intended purchases no later than mid-November. My main reason for this: Limit your impulse purchases on Black Friday and beyond! Obviously, there will be some impulse purchases. It’s Christmas, after all, and if you love to give gifts like I do, you can’t help yourself.
Buy your gift wrap.
The post-Thanksgiving selection of gift wrap is way better than the one-week-to-Christmas selection. Go ahead and grab your favorite wrapping paper in advance, and anything else you need, too. Buy a little bit more than you need – you can always keep it for next year if you have the storage.
A little wrapping paper pro-tip: I pick one very basic wrapping paper that can be dressed up with bows or string for family and friends, and then one wrapping paper specifically for Patrick and Theo.
Christmas shopping tips: In the 25 days leading up to Christmas
Wrap gifts as they come in.
I am a firm believer that you should wrap gifts as they come in. I didn’t do this last year, and I ended up listening to the entire Becoming by Michelle Obama book while I wrapped gifts night after night. Yes, you heard me. An 18-hour audiobook.
So, don’t be like me. When a gift arrives, wrap it! Make sure you have all of the items you need so you never have an excuse.
Finish all shopping a minimum of one week before Christmas.
This is my one hard and fast rule. Finish it up. You can’t enjoy your holiday season if you are rushing up until the last minute buying gifts. That’s not why Christmas is such a great holiday. Enjoy the time with your family and friends. Shop early. Trust me.