Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My 10 Tips for Smarter Holiday Shopping and Gifting

Okay... it is that time of year. Has the panic set in? We only have 38 days left before the biggest gift giving event of the year! TwitterMoms & Office Depot have brought us another challenge. They asked bloggers to share their top 10 tips for smarter shopping and gifting. Well, I think I am up to the challenge. I do still have a few items to pick up so this is still on my mind. I am trying not to stress about it, and hope this tips will help with that.

1. Plan. Easy right? Before you ever step into a store, come up with a game plan. This means think about your budget, think of how many people you need to buy for. Then think about what kinds of items you are thinking about. I like to have a rough idea of what I want to give each person. I scribble down a few toys each child would enjoy or colors and sizes for others. A little planning will help you not become overwhelmed or distracted by flashy sale signs, decorations or cheery music.

2. Go Solo For Stealth. I love shopping with my children, but we always end up buying more than we intended. My children are small and fast... so I spend a bit of time trying to get them to mind which causes me more stress. This is a fabulous time to drop them off for a playdate. Then return the favor for your friends.

3. Don't Multitask. I think it is easier to stick to my budget and plan if I only go out for the purpose of Christmas shopping. I might need some butter or milk... or a new shirt, but I can pick those up on a separate trip. Get in and get out with the least amount of hassle.

4. Make Ample Time. Clear your schedule. There is nothing worse than being in a rush to shop. I also don't suggest shopping near closing time. I tend to make poor decisions if I feel like I need to hurry and find "something".

5. Do Your Homework. Since the stores are more crowded this time of year, it helps that you can go online and check out items of interest. I also love that I can get an idea of prices that are available. I jot them down on items I want. That way if I cam in a store and see a sale that beats that price, I can snag it.

6. Shop on a Full Stomach. Just as you wouldn't want to grocery shop on an empty stomach, don't go into a holiday shopping endeavor with something else on your mind. Don't laugh, but I keep granola bars in the car just for times like this. I also take a bottle (reusable of course!) of water with me.

7. Ask for Advice. I know it depends on the store, but many stores have qualified employees who can give you advice on what item is best for your loved one. Especially if you are looking at electronics, ask the sales people to advise you within your budget. They might steer you to an item you hadn't thought about. I just have to add that Office Depot is one place where you can find tech savvy folks with great insight.

8. Ask For Wish lists. Sometimes it is a big help to have a guide to follow. That is how I view wish lists. Most online stores offer them now. Some like Amazon even have a universal wish list where you can add items not on their site. Is this cheating, no. Come on. It is hard to shop for adults! A little help is greatly appreciated.

9. Save Your Gift Receipts. It is best to keep them right with the individual items, or keep them filed away. This is a great back-up if someone already has the gift you gave them or would never use it. Just don't shove them into a pocket or wallet. You will never find them again!

10. Remember The Thought Still Counts. Just like your Mom told you as a child, it is the thought that counts. No one will stop speaking to you if you don't get them the perfect gift. Just stay away from the oversized, misshapen ugly sweater... unless they are into that sort of thing.

I am sure I could think of more... or maybe you can. I would love to hear them. Leave me a little comment love. Remember, each post you comment on gives you a new entry into any of my current giveaways. Anything to make life easier around the holidays is okay by me. This topic was brought to you by Office Depot. This is a store my DH just loves for his computer and printer needs.

About Office Depot:
Office Depot, Inc. is a global supplier of office products and services. The company was incorporated in 1986 with the opening of our first retail store in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In fiscal year 2009, we sold $12.1 billion of products and services to consumers and businesses of all sizes through our three business segments: North American Retail Division, North American Business Solutions Division and International Division. Sales are processed through multiple channels, consisting of office supply stores, a contract sales force, an outbound telephone account management sales force, Internet sites, direct marketing catalogs and call centers, all supported by our network of supply chain facilities and delivery operations.

More info: www.top30smartgifts.com

Disclaimer - I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Office Depot blogging program, making me eligible to get a $40 Office Depot gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.
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