I recently read that Christmas shopping can be as stressful as running a marathon. Now, I’ve never run a marathon and frankly have no desire to put that kind of stress on my body. With that mindset, here are my favorite tips to help avoid the stress of the holiday gifting experience and to stay merry and bright for the next month.

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18 Tips to Stress-Free Christmas Shopping!

#1: It all begins with family.

Start by finalizing who you’re shopping for before you go shopping. Many families do a “drawing” to determine who they are buying for that year. Our family does a set rotation, but some families buy for everyone, every year. How ever you do it, know early in the year who you’re buying for so that you can be thinking of it all year long (or at least before you’re in the store).

#2: Make a List and Check it Twice.

Be sure to make a list of everyone who will be giving you a present so you can reciprocate the thought.

#3: Simply remember a few of their favorite things.

Take a moment to brainstorm about your gift recipient’s favorite things. Food, candy, past-times, drinks, music, etc. Write these items on your list by their names.

#4: Know who you’re giving to.

Discuss with the people you’re buying for what they really want. Even if they’re young, they can give you a good understanding of what is important to them and what they’re “into” this year.

#5: One big present or lots of little ones?

Would your receiver rather have ten gifts that cost $10 each or one gift that cost $100? Same amount of money, but which would mean more to them? Maybe they would rather have something that has more sentimental value than monetary value. Or maybe it is just the opposite. Either way, knowing which it is will be helpful to minimize the stress over deciding what to give.

#6: Know your budget.

Know how much you’re able to spend and who is getting how much of the Christmas gift-giving budget. This will help keep you from overspending. You’ll be glad you did when the credit card bills come in January.

#7: Have a game plan.

Planning where you need to go and what you need to buy can help you to see where you can consolidate trips and give a clear picture of how to make each trip a productive outing.

#8: Stay on task.

Do you find that you have a lot of items to get at one store? (Wal-Mart, Target, Costco are some of my faves.) Organize your plan by considering where each item is in the store. This will keep you from wandering aimlessly, being enticed by every unneeded temptation that the merchandisers have so cleverly placed in your line of vision.

#9: Got Skills?

Can you cook? Give a coupon for your best home-cooked meal. Are you a good listener? Give a coupon for a future lunch together to enjoy a good visit. Are you crafty? Create something and give from your heart. Homemade gifts are undervalued, but when they are given from the heart, they are priceless.

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