Here’s the scenario:
It’s the end of November and you’re just coming out of your turkey coma. Assuming you didn’t launch into crazy shopping mode on Black Friday, you may be considering the perks of Cyber Monday. I mean, it’s all online right? All you have to do is log on and shop to your heart’s desire. No laying a finger on a germ-riddled shopping cart! You don’t have to battle the crowds. And you’re going to get crazy discounts right?? I mean, yeah, your niece doesn’t particularly need another pair of headphones, but LOOK AT THE PRICE! Before you know it, you’re distracted. You’ve gone from the headphones to refrigerators and now you’re looking at boots in your own size… STOP! Let’s take a timeout here. Put down your device and hear me out, please, because there is a better way.
Am I telling you that you should never shop Black Friday or Cyber Monday?
Nope. If you have a good plan, a solid list, and an incredible amount of self-control and patience, you go for it sister! I am here to encourage you, not to ask you to do something totally crazy!
Here’s what I won’t be asking: I WON’T be encouraging you to withhold gifts from those you love. I WON’T be telling you that celebrating Christmas with gifts is wrong. I WON’T be encouraging you to do some crazy strict thing that very few people can achieve.
I WILL be discussing easy and effective ways to shop for your loved ones throughout the year so you don’t have to do that familiar Christmastime scramble. You know, the one where you end up running to several stores looking for that perfect gift at the last minute. The one where you are growing increasingly anxious at the time ticking away before celebration time arrives as are the 400 other people trying to squeeze into the mall parking lot.
Tips for Stress-Free Shopping
Blah. Just writing about the Christmas shopping craziness makes me tense. There’s no need for your gift-giving occasions to leave you scrambling, frustrated, and frazzled. Here are a few things to think about when you’re getting started with your stress-free year-round shopping:
- Let go of the notion that you MUST get the best deal out there. Let your bank account dictate the best deal for you. What’s a fair price for the gift you’re looking for? Is your budget able to accommodate that?
- Stick to the basics. For our purposes, my husband and I generally buy all of our children’s gifts throughout the year. That means that we have to stay away from fads and seasonal items and stick with basic things that our children love through different ages and stages.
- Technology is your friend, so don’t forget to use it! If you’re walking through the store and spot an item marked down, hop on your smart phone if you have one and check out competitor’s prices. Chances are if it’s on sale at one store, it could be somewhere else too. That’s an easy way to make sure you’re getting a great deal.
- Pay attention to peak sale times. My husband and I love to stroll through different stores when we’re out together without our kids (which is a rare occasion indeed). One thing that we’ve noticed through the years is that we find excellent sales when we’re “window shopping” on our anniversary date. That’s mid-July. Why is Walmart clearancing out toys in mid-July? I have no idea, but it’s worth noting if you’re going to be year-round shopping. After Christmas sales are generally good as well as sales in the fall when summer type toys go on sale.
Advantages to Shopping Year-Round
By shopping year round I get to gauge my children’s consistent interests and buy things that they will appreciate well into the next Christmas. For us that generally looks like Legos, art supplies, books, building sets, and clothes. As a nation blessed beyond abundance, I feel responsible for keeping my children grounded. Let’s face it, kids love the latest and greatest thing. We do not have traditional television in our home, so my children rarely see commercials, but when they do, you’d think that these children have never received a gift in their life. Suddenly a stuffed animal that turns into a pillow AND holds your pajamas inside is THE MOST AMAZING THING EVERRRRR. Never mind that they have no need for something like that, or that they never touch the 5 billion stuffed animals they already have. Luke 12:15 says this:
And he said to them, “Take care and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
I want to ensure that my family remembers these words, especially during the Christmas season. Along with the relaxation I gain during the holidays by shopping this way, I also gain a sense of financial stability. There’s no saving for months in order to make Christmas “happen.” There’s no going into debt in order to find the latest craze and pay more than normal for it at the last minute. I waste less money on impulse buys when I know I have more time to look. I also waste less money on junk.
This all stems from our desire to be good stewards of the money we have been blessed with.
For me, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of knowing that I have a well-stocked closet with gifts for any occasions. There’s no post-Thanksgiving scramble for this girl. I can ride on into December knowing that other than a few things here and there, I’m set for Christmas and can set my focus on Christ our Savior.
How do you handle holiday shopping?
What ways do you ensure that your family is focusing on things greater than earthly possessions?