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A Practical Approach to Holiday Shopping


Every year it's the same thing; you remain in denial that the holiday season has arrived until it can no longer be ignored. So here you are, hating the task ahead, hoping for an easy path to "done!" Get there with less cynicism and more joy this season by adjusting your shopping mode, method, and mood.

Á La Mode
What style of shopper are you? Decisive but impatient? Shop online as much as possible, and carve out half hours in your calendar to pick up other items on your list locally. Indecisive? Enlist a shopping friend, and consult holiday gift guides for ideas. Hate crowds? Avoid stores on Black Friday (in fact, any weekend after Thanksgiving), and knock out your in-store shopping during more solitary hours of midmorning weekdays or late night hours.

A Method to the Madness
'Tis the season to spend and save. You know you have to spend, but it takes time to track down the sales to stay within your budget. Why not realize a return on smart phone expenses? Download free apps like Google Shopper or RedLaser, price-comparison tools that scan bar codes and tell you if the product is available cheaper by buying online. Goodzer's free app directs you to find desired gifts in local stores. (Apps are great small gifts―they're practical, fresh and fun. Is there a downside? Apps are hard to wrap.)

Gift cards are appreciated by teens and adults, and a welcome relief for the shopper. Boost the thoughtfulness factor with a suggestion―a recently released book you loved, your favorite line of hand and body lotion, a cashmere sweater you know would look great on the intended. This allows the recipient to politely choose something else if your tastes don't exactly align.

Get in the Mood
Holiday shopping can be fun, if you plan for it. See it as an excuse for more date nights with your spouse or time alone―shopping is usually more pleasant without the kiddos, who'll be pushing you out the door shouting "Go! Go!" Plan a shopping day with your friends or attend Girls Night Out events in your local community―these venues usually offer free edibles to make it a festive experience. Dress in comfy shoes, load up your music player to get through heavy traffic, and reward yourself at the end of the day.

When it all gets to feeling too material, remember that gift giving is an act of love, and sharing with those you love is the best part of this time of year.