Even if you love gift shopping (and that is hard to imagine), you’ll save yourself some headaches by following these simple get-ahead strategies.
• Make a list. Write down not just the names of everyone you need to buy for but also the items that you would like to give them. This way you can cross off names as you go and you don’t risk forgetting anyone or doubling up on a gift because you forgot you’ve already bought a shirt for Uncle Joe.
• Buy multiples of a gift you love, and give it to as many people on the gift list as possible. You might not be able to give the same gift to both your sisters, but you could probably give the same gift to two people who don’t know each other, or to relatives on opposite sides of the family tree.
• Gift cards are a gift to you. They’re available in any denomination, are appropriate for any age (and as children get older and their tastes get more specific, they’re really the safest bet), and they allow recipients to select the gift that they really want. Plus, you can stock up in advance and be ready for any eventuality, such as that last-minute invitation. Just be aware of the expiration dates, and either use them yourself or give them as birthday gifts in the coming months.
• Buy as many gifts as possible online. This is a great way of checking off items on your list in a calm environment, and if you can buy multiple gifts from one retailer, you increase the likelihood of free shipping.
• Complimentary gift wrapping saves loads of time. Unless wrapping gives you joy, take advantage of this free service when you buy in bricks-and-mortar stores.
• Have hostess gifts on hand, and keep them simple. If you usually bake something when you go to someone’s house, it’s okay to give yourself a break. A bottle of wine, bakery dessert, or box of chocolates can be just as nice. It’s the thought that counts, right?
• Keep track of holiday tipping. You can make the annual ritual a lot easier if you don’t have to reinvent the wheel each year. Keep a spreadsheet of all of the holiday tips you give—this way you know your budget, and you don’t forget anyone. Otherwise, you may not remember how much you tipped your mail carrier last year, but guaranteed, she or he will.