Want to learn how to shop year-round and reduce holiday stress? Read on! November and December are probably two of my most favorite months of the year because we get to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas!
But we all know the stress that can sometimes take over as our lives get extra busy with all the holiday activities. We so much want to focus on Jesus, on the true meaning of Christmas, of cherishing special family traditions and making memories together. But little by little, the stress mounts as we realize that we have so much to do and so little time. We find ourselves in a frenzy, impatient with our kids, grumpy, and going, going, going! Sound familiar? Let’s look at one thing you can do to greatly reduce stress this holiday season — shopping year-round!
How to Shop Year-Round
Below I am going to outline the steps to take to put this system in place. It isn’t that hard, but it takes a bit of organization..and you can do it! Be prepared for a much less stressful Christmas season this year! Ok..here we go…
Make a List of People to Buy For
The very first step to doing your Christmas shopping year-round is making a list of everyone that you plan to buy gifts for. I am currently using Evernote for this. I have a Christmas binder that holds my Christmas folders for each year. I created a “Christmas 2016” folder, and then have notes in this folder for that year. One of the notes I titled “2016 Christmas Gift List”. Then I typed out a list of everyone that I want to buy a gift for. So decide on where you are going to keep your Christmas information for this year and get that list made!
Add Christmas Shopping to Your Calendar
The next step is adding Christmas Shopping to your calendar. I would suggest choosing 1 day a month to purchase a gift. I always do my shopping on Fridays, so I went into my Google Calendar and created an event called “Purchase a Christmas Gift” and set it to recur every first Friday of each month. If you are using a paper calendar, simply decide on the day each month you are going to purchase a gift and write it in for each month.
You may think this is overkill, but I am finding this works great and ensures that I won’t forget! There are so many things in my life to remember, and the more I can get things out of my brain and onto paper or a digital calendar, the less stress I will have! So once I get it all set up on my calendar, I don’t worry about it anymore! I know that it will come up and remind me each month. When that day comes, I simply add the name of the person I am going to get a gift for that day to my shopping list. Works great!
Do the Shopping
This is the fun part! When your shopping day comes around, have fun focusing on getting a special gift for that one person. I think sometimes when we wait to do our shopping until the last minute, our minds are so full of all the people we need to shop for, that we tend to hurry through our shopping and not put a lot of thought into it. When you do your shopping this way, it allows you to just focus on one person at a time.
Record What You Bought
Once you come home from the store, go to your Gift List that you made and record exactly what you purchased beside that person’s name. Don’t rely on yourself to remember what gifts you bought for each person! By updating your Gift List each time you go gift shopping, you won’t have to remember a thing, and you can know that your list will be there when it comes time to do the wrapping.
Store the Gifts
Once you start doing some shopping, you will need to figure out a good place to store these gifts until Christmas. I have decided not to wrap the gifts before I store them. I want to leave a little fun for during the holidays! Take into consideration if you are going to be buying gifts for your immediate family (such as your kids) that you may need to “hide” them until Christmas and your storage place will have to be somewhat private. You can buy a couple of big tubs with lids and store the gifts in the tubs. Mark them “Christmas Gifts – Stay Out!” if you want to, so someone doesn’t accidentally get into them.
Enjoy the Holidays
By the time December rolls around, you will have all or a huge junk of your shopping done already! This will allow you to have more time to focus on doing special things together as a family. Instead of scrambling to get all your shopping done, you can enjoy the time baking cookies with the kids, going Christmas caroling, or having a family movie night and watching White Christmas.
Some Closing Thoughts
Depending on how many people you buy gifts for, you may need to shop for two people each month. Just take a look at your list and the number of people to shop for, and divide it up over the months of the year.
You can take this same principle and apply it to other gift buying that you do — such as for birthdays and anniversaries. Take note of the people you usually buy birthday and anniversary gifts for, and then be sure to add them on your calendar in a timely manner so that you get their gifts purchased before their birthday or anniversary.
I hope you can see how beneficial it is having a “system” in place to get some of these things done. By creating a system and putting it into action, it allows you to accomplish what you want to accomplish without all the stress!
So…I encourage you to consider whether this is a system that you want to put into place in your own life. If so, start today and be ready for a much less stressful Christmas season!
Oh…Another resource I highly recommend is our 12-Week Holiday Planner. This planner gives you weekly to do lists, beginning in October and running through New Year’s. Each week you will work on tasks to prepare you for Thanksgiving and Christmas, doing a little bit each week so that you can enjoy a peaceful holiday season with your family and friends. You can download a sample week here so you can see what it’s like!