We’ve all seen the reports about the curveballs being thrown at holiday shopping this year. Shipping delays, raw material shortages, empty store shelves, clogged ports, worker shortages, and, oh yeah, that thing you may have heard of called a global pandemic. In summary, things are pretty chaotic. But before you decide to drown your holiday plans in an abyss of egg nog (which is also hard to find this year!), there are a few ways to get out in front of the madness. Introducing, seven ways to conquer the 2021 holiday shopping season.
Start Earlier than Early
This one may seem obvious, but it can’t be stressed enough. In fact, if you’re reading this and you haven’t started yet, it’s time to strap on your comfiest shoes and get out the door, or stay right where you are and navigate to your online retailer of choice, stat! With all the delays, backups and shortages, items may take much longer to reach their destinations if ordered online. Or, things could very well be out of stock at your favorite stores, making it harder to fulfill your little ones’ holiday wish lists.
So, the earlier you start, the better your chances of securing your gifts in time for the holiday. And don’t worry about missing out on Black Friday deals. Many retailers have already begun launching attractive discounts to entice early shopping. So what are you waiting for?
Shop Unique Gifts
Every year there is a “latest and greatest” electronic or must-have toy (remember Tickle Me Elmo?). And while they lead to brightly lit faces and addiction-level attention when gifted, the obsession tends to fizzle out like a dud firework by mid-January. These products are mass-produced, everyone else you know has one, and suddenly, the allure is gone. So ask yourself, “is sleeping on the sidewalk outside the big box store worth it or is there another way?”
Enter unique, handmade or personalized gifts! Sites like Etsy and other online marketplaces open up a whole new world of gift-giving. You’ll find items that are unique, hand-crafted, and one-of-a-kind. They’re sure to keep that allure factor going for much longer than the latest video game. You can skip the hand-to-hand combat and sidewalk slumber at the big box store; and support independent merchants (as a family-owned company, we totally get behind that!).
Here’s another way to support independent, or even small, businesses while cutting yourself some madness slack this season. When you shop local, you get a gift with a zip code attitude (hello, sentimental value!) without the holiday shopping stress. Why not enjoy the season by exploring shops in your own backyard … you know the shops right next to that scrumptious bakery/coffee shop? Have some fun while you support your community in a variety of ways. So if there are boutique shops, art galleries, locally-owned clothing stores, local restaurants or theaters (for gift cards), give them a try. Avoid the rat race, get great gifts and help local business owners with every purchase!
Get Your Craft On
Got a crafty side? Why not avoid the crowded aisles and empty shelves and make gifts of your own? Even something as simple as a photograph you take, print (or “develop” if the old school way of shooting on film is your thing) and frame can be a lovely gift. Or maybe you’d like to make a homemade, handwritten card or tree ornament. You don’t need to be Martha Stewart to make a gift of your own. Plus, it could mean a lot to someone to know that you took the time to create something special for them. There’s that sentimental value again! If you’re not sure where to begin, here are some DIY ideas to get those creative juices flowing like Aunt Frida’s holiday punch.
If crafts just aren’t your thing, spend some relaxing time at home in your own kitchen baking up some tasty treats. Tins of homemade cookies, pies, cupcakes, cake pops or even candies … oh my! Everyone loves seasonal treats so put yourself first on their “nice” list by giving them what they want. Need some inspiration? Check out the Food Network’s gallery of best-loved holiday favorites. Or, if your last dozen pans of cookies went up in smoke, there’s nothing wrong with getting some help from your local bake shop. A cute tin, a little ribbon … and no one will know the difference. Shhh …
Does He Really Have Everything?
Yes, he does. He’s discerning, he knows what he likes and when he sees it, he buys it. He does not need a chia pet from you as a gesture of giving, and we are A-Okay with that. This year, honor the guy who as everything by giving a gift card with a personalized note. It’s simple, he’ll love it, and it will save him the trouble of making up a story about what happened to the chia pet.
Experience The Holidays
We’ve all heard the phrase, “experiences over things,” so why not gift an experience for the holiday? It doesn’t need to be an expensive tropical vacation. It can be something simple like a trip to a local ice rink after a nice dinner at your loved one’s favorite restaurant, a cozy stay at a winter cabin, an itinerary of surprise fun activities for the whole family – anything that will create lifelong memories. Experiences can even = doing good. Got a friend who is wild about animals? Give a date for the two of you to volunteer at your local pet shelter. You may even end up launching an annual tradition!
So now that you know seven ways to conquer holiday shopping this year, you can get to work planning a wonderful, unique and memorable holiday for yourself and your loved ones. For even more tips, check out our other Smart Money articles right here on the Moneytree blog.