3 Ways to Beat Holiday Shopping Stress

Photo: rafal

I can always tell when the holiday season is approaching; not only does a chill appear in the air, but automobile drivers appear much more anxious than normal, shouting remarks such as, "Move it buddy! Get out of my way!" followed by a series of shrill honks. The stress of the oncoming holidays has many people on edge, ready to yell and snarl at the first person who annoys them. 

I know I feel much more uptight around this time of year, and I don't think it has much to do with the chillier temperatures or dry skin. The pressure of travel, families, and shopping seems to take its toll on just about everyone, including myself. Over the past few years, I've realized that I don't have to become the harried shopper who tramples others in pursuit of a bargain. Instead, I've found alternatives to avoiding crowded malls and traffic-jammed parking lots.

The Joys of Online Shopping

I've found that some of the most appreciated gifts are ones that can be shared among the family, such as gift baskets or Omaha Steaks packages. Since many of these items are available exclusively online, I avoid the hassles of driving to a shopping center, hunting for a parking spot, and waiting half an hour in line to check out. Many online vendors also offer promotional discounts, coupon codes, or free shipping.

The only catch with shopping online is making sure to place an order with sufficient delivery time. Many vendors can accommodate orders up to a few business days before Christmas. But to avoid headaches and potentially late deliveries, give yourself 7-10 business days before the holiday arrives.

Shopping Mid-Week

Every so often I just can't find all of the gifts on my shopping list online. Or worse yet, I run out of time and find myself unable to place an online order for a timely arrival. That means having to brave the malls and shopping centers. In the past, I've found that shopping midweek in the early afternoon means fewer shoppers and less wait time at the counter. I can easily breeze in and out of the stores and parking lots without having to jostle for a parking spot or rub shoulders with fellow shoppers. Thankfully, my schedule allows me the flexibility of shopping during the off-peak hours.

Crafting Handmade Gifts

Some of the most memorable gifts I've received have been personalized, handmade presents including memory quilts, homemade edibles, and inscribed memorabilia. Last year I made it a point to hand-make a few gifts for colleagues instead of purchasing run-of-the-mill gifts that wouldn't be appreciated. I'm not very crafty when it comes to a sewing machine or hot glue gun, but I am able to whip up a few favorite drink recipes using mason jars. Mason jars are one of the most versatile and inexpensive staples for a slew of craft ideas including bath salts, candle holders, cookie mixes, potpourri containers, and vases. Creating hand-made gifts does take some planning and time, although last year I was able to whip up my drink recipes in a day.

Whatever your gift-giving ideas and holiday plans, less stress during the holidays is always appreciated.

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Guest's picture

I am a big proponent of online shopping. It saves time, money, and stress!

Little House's picture

I couldn't agree more!

Guest's picture

Hello Little House!

Nice post:). I actually shop all year round for Christmas, although I always have a few more people to add to my list around the holidays, and a handfull that I have not found anything for yet (I take stock of my gift cupboard around this time).

I always tell myself, things like holidays and celebrations should never be stressful because it takes away the entire point of it. Much easier said than done sometimes, but it helps to center things for me again.

Little House's picture

I wish I could be more diligent and start shopping early in the year. I just can't bear to think of the holidays until late November, even though holiday decorations go up in October. ;)

Guest's picture

Online shopping has definitely been a lifesaver for me this year. I like to shop the off peak hours too - nothing worse than getting stressed over parking spaces or long checkout lines.

Little House's picture

The parking is the worst, especially with most people crowding around the fronts of stores. Shopping online saves time, and I've even found that some of the best gifts can only be purchased online (like annual family passes to the zoo for out-of-state relatives.)

Guest's picture

It's amazing how much stress you can reduce by just avoiding the stores. I take the noting matters approach to everything and barely get stressed this time of year :).

Guest's picture

I love shopping online. I became hooked 9 years ago when I blew out my knee and couldn't walk very well. I sat there on Amazon and bought for all my kids in one night. I felt so accomplished!

I better get to work on this now that I think about it!

Guest's picture

Off-hour shopping is a great way to go! We try to do off-hour everything! Dining, Vacation and whatever you can think of :)

I'm starting to do more online shopping too, this year it was an American Girl doll for my daughter and a DS video game :) I guess I'm hooked!