If you end up spending way too much time Christmas shopping and come home with stocking stuffers that nobody is kicked about, maybe it’s time to rethink the way you go about it.
This technique to make a shopping list has helped me find the perfect gifts for my friends and family and saved me hundreds of dollars every time. Maybe it will help you?
1. Settle down at your desk comfortably with a piece of paper and a pencil.
2. Make three columns.
3. In the first column create two sub- headings – Must buy, Want to buy.
4. Under the first category, write the names of your dearest loved ones whom you absolutely must buy gifts for. Parents, siblings, best friend, spouse, grandparents, aunts and uncles may fall in this category. Include the people you care about the most and whom you will definitely be meeting or sending gifts to.
5. Under Want to buy, include people you like and want to give something to – such as colleagues, professors, business associates, tennis partner, distant cousin, child’s teacher etc.
6. In the second column – against each name write down what you know about them which would help you find gifts for them. For example – Against Mom, you could write – enjoys decorating, likes good coffee, is a Michelle Obama fan etc. Against Uncle Stephen, you could write – needs to get his den organized, enjoys cigars, poker
7. In the third column – translate the items in the second column to actual gifts. For example, gift options for mom could be – a yearly subscription to a leading Home Décor magazine or a couple of bags of the finest coffee beans, a book about Michelle Obama or a collection of the best interview clippings with the First Lady from leading magazines. For Uncle Stephen, the options could be – hire cleaning help to clean out and organize den or build or buy a storage shelf for his large book collection, personalized poker cards or a new poker table.
8. When you’ve done this for all the people in your list, you will see that for each person you will have two or three gift options to choose from. Now, select the options you like best. For some people, you could combine a couple of gifts. For others, you could choose just one. Some gifts, you can make and personalize – a book with Michelle Obama clippings for Mom, for example. Some gifts, you can order online.
9. Do the same with the second category of people. Remember to include gifts that are ‘free’ – such as your babysitting services, an offer to read to someone or to drive them somewhere, to help somebody out for a day etc.
10. When your list is complete, go back with a pen and circle the gift options you like best. Carry the list with you so that if you don’t find your first choice or if it’s beyond your budget, you can pick options two or three.
11. Once you’re done shopping for your first category or ‘Must Buy’ group, bring back the piece of paper and think about the second category of people. By this time, you ought to know how much you have spent already and how much more your budget will allow.
Depending on how comfortable your balance card looks, shortlist your second group further. You can either choose a handful of people from this group and buy them thoughtful gifts or cut back on the budget for each individual and buy all of them similarly priced gifts at a warehouse store or discount store. Be creative. Even if your budget doesn’t allow a gift for everyone, you could still send them Free Christmas Ecards or personalized photo ecards. Or give them a box of home made cookies. At a time when people are trying to cut corners and save every penny, gift certificates or gift cards to bakeries and coffee shops or gas cards would all be appreciated more than you can imagine.
Tip: If you’re completely clueless as to what to get somebody, the best way to find out is by talking to them. Just call them up, chat with them for a few minutes, ask what they have been up to, what their Christmas plans are and how they have been – and within a few minutes – you will have surely learnt something about them that will give you great gift ideas.