How to make holiday gifting more merry

by Chloe Nimpoeno

With the holiday season in full swing, it is officially time to pour the hot chocolate, dig out the skis, turn on the Christmas lights and start the yearly holiday shopping list.

Holiday gifting can be stressful, expensive and take the fun out of the season. Here are five tips on how to make this year’s holiday gifting experience less of a hassle and more enjoyable for everyone.

Propose a Secret Santa or White Elephant

Gifting games such as Secret Santa or White Elephant are quick ways to cut a lengthy shopping list down to a single present. For those unfamiliar with Secret Santa, everyone in a group of people draws someone else’s name and has to buy a present for that person. This name is kept secret from the rest of the group until the exchange. The secretive element of Secret Santa makes gifting more exciting, and allows you to focus on purchasing a gift for one person as opposed to multiple. White Elephant is a game that also only involves being responsible for one gift — each person contributes an item to a pool of gifts and, through drawing numbers, everyone has the chance to either choose a gift from the pile or steal one from someone who chose before them. Proposing a game of Secret Santa or White Elephant to your family or a group of friends is an opportunity to ease the stress of having to buy multiple gifts, all while adding some excitement to the holiday season.

Pre-plan for potential bulk buys

Before you even begin shopping for gifts, write down the names of every person or family member you plan to give gifts to and find opportunities to bulk buy and save on excessive shopping trips. Once you know whom you’re gifting to this year, sort them into general categories of gifts. This way, you know the approximate amount of each type of item you need to purchase, and the amount of trips you may have to do. Categories that may benefit from bulk buying can include gift cards, baked goods, books, toys and apparel. For example, you might plan to give all your coworkers a gift card for the holidays. If you know the quantity of gift cards you need ahead of time, it could save you one or two last minute trips to the store. Additionally, pre-planning leaves the opportunity to capitalize on sales and discounts when buying large quantities.

Treat friends to a holiday meal or activity

When no material gifts seem fitting, or you just no longer have time to go out and shop anymore, consider treating some of your friends or relatives to a holiday meal or activity. A holiday meal can simply mean hosting a potluck, taking them out for brunch or a trip to a sweets store. A holiday meal does not have to be a fancy sit-down dinner every single time, and your loved ones will appreciate the creativity! If a holiday meal is not your style, planning a holiday activity is another way to eliminate the stress of looking for material presents. There are a lot of low-cost or free holiday activities, such as checking out Christmas decorations, decorating baked goods, going ice-skating and watching holiday movies. If you’re concerned that your friends and family may not understand your intentions, you can unleash some more creativity into crafty ways to ensure they realize the meal or activity is your gift to them.

Ask for wishlists

As awkward as it may seem, asking loved ones what they want for the holidays is a great way to avoid the stress of thinking about what to give. Plus, they’ll thank you later for getting them what they really wanted! The more detailed a wishlist is, the better — names of specific brands, links directed to specific products and so forth will help save time and energy. If you’re afraid of being too straightforward, consider approaching the subject in a conversation about their recent hobbies or interests to help you narrow down the possibilities. Asking for someone’s wishlist does not make you lazy at gifting, nor does it mean you don’t know the person — it just means you want to make sure you get them something they really want.

Set a budget, and don’t stray from it!

Setting a budget and adhering to it is easier said than done, but it is a crucial way to make sure your holiday gifting season is cost effective and hassle free. Just like wishlists, the more detailed a budget is, the better. Instead of only setting up an overall budget for the total cost of all the gifts you plan to get, break up the total and assign them to certain types of people and gifts. For example, you may want to give your family members more expensive gifts as opposed to your coworkers, so adjust your budget accordingly before you begin to shop. Give yourself wiggle room too, as unexpected shipping costs or stock shortages may affect how much money you actually spend. Stay mindful of your budget, and don’t feel pressured to give everybody in your life presents of the same monetary value.

After all, at its heart, holiday gifting is all about the spirit of giving — and with that in mind, it can be one of the most exciting parts of the season.

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