4 Tips for Avoiding a Holiday Shopping Meltdown

One of the most common difficulties associated with holiday shopping is the meltdown. At some point during the holiday season, you reach a point at which you can take no more of the insanity. The lines. The crowds. The endless displays fighting for your attention. Plus, you have to make sure you shop for everyone on your list.

If you want to avoid a holiday shopping meltdown this season, here are 4 tips to employ:

1. Start Early

One of the best things you can do is start early. My husband and I actually shop for holiday gifts year-round. When we see something (especially if it is on sale) that is perfect for a friend or relative, we buy it immediately. We keep track of who we’ve bought gifts for, and when the holidays arrive, things are much less stressful.

My husband also buys many of our specialty ornaments in the summer. They are less expensive then, often costing less than the “sale” price during the holiday season.

2. Create a Plan

Don’t forget to plan ahead. This is the best way to avoid a holiday shopping meltdown. Holiday purchases go beyond gifts for others. Holiday entertaining and decorating require that you make a number of purchases. Create a plan to save up money throughout the year (keeping it in a high-yield account) so that you aren’t straining your budget during the holidays.

Also, make a list of what you already have, so you aren’t buying duplicates. In some cases, you might have enough left over to last another year. This works well with decorations, cards, and other non-perishable items.

3. Buy Online

In my household, we have technology to thank for the fact that we rarely experience a holiday shopping meltdown. Since we do most of our shopping online, it’s fairly easy to avoid lines, and get good prices. The ornaments my husband buys (during the summer) cost less on eBay than they do on the store — and certainly less than they cost once November comes.

There are plenty of great deals online for Black Friday as well. No need to wait in line in the cold or battle other shoppers; just place your order. Sometimes you have to deal with a slow web site, but it’s usually not too much of a problem. Go online, and you’ll find that you can save money and avoid the crowds.

4. Consider the Post-Holiday Sales

Depending on what you want, you might be able to wait until the post-holiday sales. These apply online as well as in the “real” world. Post-holiday sales can be great places stock up on decorations and other items. It’s been years since we bought decorations (other than the specialty ornaments) at times other than post-holiday sales.

Sometimes, because we have two-day shipping with Amazon Prime, we wait to buy certain gifts until the holiday or the days after. Since we don’t visit some of our relatives until after the holidays, we have a little extra time.

The key is to figure out what works for you, and do your best to make choices spread out the impact of holiday shopping so you aren’t stressed with it all at once.

About the Author

Miranda writes about financial topics for several web sites. Her blog is Planting Money Seeds, and her book, Confessions of a Professional Blogger, is available on Amazon.