Christmas Shopping: How-to Guide

Christmas shopping  is the most expensive and probably most hated time of year, but seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces when they open their gifts on Christmas Day makes it facing the crowds, and spending all the money worthwhile.  Here we’re going to give you two perspectives on how to shop.  Shopping for kids, and shopping for everyone else in the family.

My husband and I have found a way to keep our Christmas costs down.  Instead of buying each other gifts, we just buy one big item that we both want.  Doing it this way we are able to focus more of our money on the kids that mean the world to us.  We now have two nieces, two nephews and our own amazing son to buy for.  Our two nieces and one nephew have more toys that I can count so we’ve been trying to avoid toys the past couple years.  Our nephew is a clothing fanatic so a cool new outfit is always a hit with him.
I’ve come across a simple rule that I absolutely love when it comes to buying gifts for kids.  It’s the 4 gift rule. Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.  That way they get a variety of things, but it doesn’t break the bank.  Now I say it’s a great idea, but we have yet to follow it.  We’re closer to using it with our nieces and nephews but no where near it with our son.
The other thing my husband and I do is we set a budget (say $50 per child) and shop within that, or try to.  Our nieces  and nephew are generally fairly easy to shop for.  A new outfit, some colouring books, and a new movie.  Or one big gift that all the kids (from the same family) can use together.  When it comes to our son, however, there is no budget.  Last year he got a ton of stuff, it was the first year he could enjoy actually opening gifts.  He got everything from clothes, to movies, to toy cars, to tools (to go in the play workbench from his grandparents), and a set of bongos (he’s so musical it’s ridiculous).  This year is no different.  We ordered some special movies from him, he’ll get a couple new outfits, some toy vehicles (cars, planes, etc), plastic animals, books, a train set, and a couple special toys.  The special toys are where we really “broke the bank”.  Toys R Us has an exclusive line of Toy Story dolls.  The original characters (including Jessie and Bullseye from Toy Story 2) with the original phrase and package that you see in the movies. My husband and I had looked everywhere for a Woody doll that had the original phrases but never found one, so when these toys came out we jumped and got them.  Clark is the proud owner of an original Woody and Bullseye (we’ll get him Buzz Lightyear for Easter probably).  He loves the movies so we can’t wait to see his face when he opens them up.
Now once we have more kids, whenever that my be, obviously we won’t be able to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on each of them like we have the past couple of years on Clark.  This is when we’ll probably get closer to using the 4 gift rule, but be assured one of those gifts will be a “big” gift, whether it’s a big toy, or an electronic device when they get older.  But until that day comes we’re going to continue spoiling our son rotten, while still spoiling our nieces and nephews on  a smaller scale.

Shopping for the adults, or older children/teenagers on your list can be just as overwhelming as buying for the kids. With so many people around in the malls and shops I now I personally cannot take too much when going out in December.

It has taken us a few years, but the group of siblings on my boyfriends side has finally perfected our gift giving tradition. My boyfriend has 4 brothers, and they are all married or in serious relationships, making it a total of 10 people (including his parents) to buy for, plus the children. We had to come up with the more economical way for all of us to save a little money at this time of year. We decided, with a little help from my mother in law, that we would each pick a name and buy a gift for 50$ for that person, provided that they give us a list of things that they would like. As well as a little added touch, we would buy 5$ max for each persons stocking. We all usually end up with an abundance of Tim Horton’s gift cards, and candy, but I don’t think anyone has complained.

Some easy ways to shop at this time of year:

Make a plan – map out where you want to go, and what it is that you want.

Have an idea of what to get – If you don’t know what to get for a specific person, instead of getting frustrated, look on line and look up gift guides, or ideas for that type of person.

Set a budget – this make a giant difference in the stress of Christmas, and after.

Use cash not plastic – this makes you stay on budget, like you would not believe. If you can, divide up your money into little envelopes and label them with the names of the people who you are giving gifts to, this way if you find something small you will know immediately how much you have left. Keep a post it note of the running total on the inside, or even on the outside of the envelope.

Online shopping – if you can work it so shipping works in your favour, and it can get to you on time, it makes a world of difference.



Next week – Stocking Stuffers

Week after – Cooking for Christmas – and some crazy ideas!


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