Sweat trickled down my back as I watched the cashier’s sloth-like movements. My ankles had already been bashed in twice by overenthusiastic shoppers wielding their carts like battering rams, and at this rate, I wouldn’t be done for another two hours.
We’ve all been there, standing in the long lines of holiday gift shopping. Scrambling to find presents for a long list of people, some we hardly see more than once a year. It’s physically and emotionally exhausting to manage and definitely robs me of the Christmas spirit.
But there are ways to simplify the process. These 5 tips are my favorite ways to contain the gift-buying madness and to simplify holiday gift giving. Whether it’s doing more online shopping or limiting the number of gifts you have to buy, these tips will bring a bit more peace to your mind and spirit as you celebrate the holidays.
5 Ways to Simplify Holiday Gift Giving
Amazon Wish Lists
Some people find wish lists a little uncouth but at the end of the day, I’d much rather give a gift that’s really wanted than one that causes guilt or return hassles for the recipient. Our extended family has gone to using Amazon Wish Lists to help organize and manage gift ideas. I can’t keep up with what Disney princess my niece is into or what type of running shorts my brother-in-law wants but now I can order exactly what they’d like with the click of a button.
Amazon even has a Wish List extension for Chrome so that you can add items from from anywhere on the web to your wish lists. It’s my number one favorite way to skip the mental fatigue of buying gifts. In one evening at my computer, I can knock out almost my entire list.
Tip: You can set up spoiler surprise settings so you don’t see if someone has purchased something but others will see that it’s been purchased.
Coming up with individual gifts for a family of four, five, or even six is really exhausting. Yes, it’s a strain on the budget but it’s even more of a processing strain for my brain to think of that many items and remember who likes what. Enter the brilliance of the family gift. Pool your budget for each individual and come up with something the whole family can share. It’s one or two items to order and think about verses lots of smaller gifts to manage (and wrap).
Some Family Gift Ideas
- Movie Tickets + some fun candy
- Family Game Night Basket – a few favorite board games and snacks or pizza gift card
- Sporting Equipment – something the whole family can play together
- Science Basket – household products + recipes for fun science experiments at home
- Photo Session
- Cookie Party or Ice Cream Sundae Kit
Most of us don’t need more things! Give an experience instead that will be memorable and fun without adding more stuff to keep track of and maintain. The bonus is that most of these types of gifts can be purchased online or over the phone and simply printed out and stuck in a gift bag. It doesn’t get easier than that. For kids, I often include a small item that represents the gift so that they have something fun to play with while they wait for the experience.
Experience Gift Ideas
- Tickets to a local sports or theater event
- Lessons or Team Sport Registration
- A date night (for parent/child or couples)
- A fancy meal at a favorite restaurant
- A trip to a nearby attraction
Set Price or Number Limits
Start with a budget for each person and stick to it. It can be really hard when all those marketing folks are doing such a good job with holiday deals, but I’ve had good luck with sticking to a price limit and also a gift limit. Some families use the WANT, NEED, WEAR, READ guidelines. Whatever traditions you come up with, make sure they work for your family and align with your values and budget.
Related Post: A Book Gift Guide for the Whole Family
Give in Honor of Others
For several older relatives who really don’t have a need for any more gifts, we’ve started making donations in honor of them. I try to find specific causes that I know they care about (like an animal shelter for an aunt who loves dogs) and then print a nice card that lets them know a donation has been made in their honor. It’s another easy, online option and honors the recipient without mindless buying of stuff.
When You Simplify Holiday Gift Giving
Not all of these tips will be a great fit for your family and some of them might seem like a terrible idea to you and that’s ok. You’re job is to pick the ones that help bring you greater joy this holiday season and let go of the rest. These days I spend a lot less time in stores and have fewer gifts to buy on my list which means more peace in my life and time to focus on what really matters.
And let’s be honest, getting to shop in my slippers and pjs is better than a bruised ankle any day!
Do you have a favorite family gift idea or experience you like to give? I’d love to have other suggestions. Also, tell me about your best tips to avoid holiday shopping stress. I need all the help I can get this time of year!