Family Christmas Shopping and Gift Ideas

Christmas approaches and the shopping malls are starting to get busy. When most of us think of Christmas shopping we picture crowded shopping malls, difficulty parking and sales racks in complete disarray, somewhat akin to the Sales. To many people, the disarray and excited scurrying through the bargains on offer adds to the thrill of shopping and treat it as a fun day out.

However to others it can be a nightmare, especially for men. Women seem to cope quite well in the shopping arena but men just want to get in buy their item and get out. This article will offer useful tips for those who are not shopaholics but still wish to complete their Christmas shopping on time.

We all love to give gifts, to our family and loved ones, in the hope that they will be received on time and be appreciated. But finding the right gift for a particular person can be difficult. One of the main sources for gift information is communication with your family, whether local or distant. If you are in contact with your relatives on a regular basis you can discover what their interests are, what their children are into this year and what gifts would be appreciated.

Children are probably the easiest to shop for, children love to receive gifts however large or small. Adults and teenagers however are a little more difficult, mainly because as we get older our interest and tastes change. Moving away from the family area can influence these changes, having partners can also influence change. Living conditions also play a role in this area, whether you live in a house or an apartment makes a difference to what kind of household gift you would like to receive.

In the present climate of gift buying, electronic games and communication devices are high on everybody’s list. Digital cameras for instance are a favourite for children and adults; we all love to take pictures to show our friends. For the avid reader, there are eBooks and eBook readers that store thousands of books and documents, all ready to read in an instant.

Movies and music discs are another favourite gift, especially for teenagers, although communication devices will be top of most teenagers list, if it is the latest model.

There is of course the old and trusted gift certificate, never to be underestimated, gift certificates provide a choice to the recipient, they can accumulate several gift certificates to achieve their long awaited purchase, or they can add to it to buy something they really want. And that, after all, is the aim of of gift buying, to give the receiver what they would buy themselves.

Another consideration when buying gifts for distant relatives is shipping costs; these alone can double the overall cost of the gift. Shipping can be difficult and expensive and can be a tremendous hassle, especially if you are shipping the gift close to Christmas time when post is generally extremely busy.

There is a way to avoid all the hustle and bustle of Christmas Shopping malls and that is to shop online. There are some things you must be aware of before shopping on the internet, one of which is security especially your bank details.

When making your purchase online, I believe, it is better to use a credit card than your bank debit card. There are many unscrupulous people online, who are continually looking for other people’s bank details, especially during the busy Christmas shopping period. If you see an unbelievable bargain, be wary, it could be a scam. However if you are aware of the pitfalls and you use a reputable retailer you should have no problem.

Another benefit of using a reputable retailer is the shipping. Many good online retailers will have reasonable shipping charges and in some cases will ship free of charge, depending on the distance of course. But do remember to check the shipping times and shop early so as to avoid postal delays.

Online Shopping and Shipping

Going to the high street is just so last season darling, it’s all about the online marketplace and grabbing yourself the very latest designer item of clothing, gadget or cheap holiday. Online shopping is seriously big business and this fact has not been lost on savvy companies who all now understand the importance of e-commerce for everything from weekly food shopping and cheap designer toiletries to your summer holiday and last minute gifts for the ones you love but whose birthdays you forgot.

There are obvious advantages to online shopping and shipping, avoiding the queues for car parks, changing rooms and tills is the major one, with lower prices and endless choice coming a close second and third. But what you don’t get online is the hustle and bustle and excitement of shopping for real and it’s important to keep a contact with the real world after all. The other disadvantage to online shopping is that unless it’s cleverly marketed, it can be hard to keep up with the trends. Having said that, both of these gaps can be filled by other activities in your life, from socialising with your friends and talking about what’s new and what’s hot and reading online or print magazines and newspapers.

It’s unlikely that by doing a bit of online shopping for convenience sake you’ll be doing any harm at all to your social life and it really is a whole lot easier than navigating public transport or city centre traffic and parking charges once you know what you’re doing. Be careful not to become unimaginative in your online shopping habits though, when you send that parcel to a friend in time for their birthday or for Christmas, you better make sure it’s a good one.

A lot of online stores offer free delivery and free returns but to be honest, these days parcel delivery with the likes of DHL or Parcelforce really can be so cost effective that this wouldn’t necessarily persuade you to buy something from that site over another. Price comparison, just like e-commerce, is all over the web and there’s even price comparison for parcel delivery so you can get the best (read cheapest or quickest) service around, again without having to deal with the general public. As long as you’ve got more going on in your life than online shopping and comparing parcel delivery companies and couriers, both can be a nice and convenient addition to daily life.

13 Ways to Save Money and Beat the Stress of Holiday Shopping and Gift Giving

Is it me, or is the Christmas season starting earlier every year?

Halloween was barely over before the Christmas decorations and the pre-Christmas sales started appearing in the stores in my community. Santa arrived in mid-November at one of our local malls, and was escorted to the place where he’ll sit from now until December 24, so kids can tell him what they want for Christmas.

Personally, I enjoy going out to the stores and malls to shop during the holidays. I even enjoy taking my five kids with me! I make it an event and have fun. I enjoy the music, the sights, the smells, the deals, and the people.

My wife, and millions of others, on the other hand, would prefer to never set foot in the mall again until all the Christmas decor has been packed away.

For many, Christmas shopping and gift giving adds a lot of stress to their lives. They hate the crowds in the stores, the pressure to find the “perfect” gift, and the expectation to spend a certain amount of money on each person on their list.

Here are 13 ways you can cut down the stress and simplify shopping and gift giving this holiday season:

If you must shop at the mall or certain “big box” stores, shop at off-peak hours. You can call the store and ask them what time-frame they would recommend.
Shop at arts and craft fairs. You’re sure to find unique (and maybe even custom-made and personalized) gifts for that special someone.
Buy from stores or organizations that feature fair-trade gifts made by artisans in the developing world, like Ten Thousand Villages. The artisans are paid a living wage and proceeds from sales go to help other would-be artisans get started.
Instead of buying a gift, give a donation in that person’s honor to a charity or cause you or they care about.
Instead of buying gifts for your family, plan a special trip, event or activity that the entire family will enjoy. That’s what our family is doing this year!
Shop online. The Monday after American Thanksgiving is known as “Cyber Monday,” the biggest online shopping day of the year. This is a great way to beat the crowds! And you often get free shipping. I’m continually amazed at how much stuff you can buy at Amazon.com. It’s not just for books anymore!
Give gift certificates/gift cards. You never have to worry about picking the right size or color! You can buy them at most any retailer, or online.
Take advantage of pre-holiday sales now. Seems like every major retailer is advertising “lowest prices of the season.”
Be sure to set a budget. Decide in advance how much you are going to spend, and don’t go into debt! Sadly, so much stress is created in January once those credit card bills start coming in.
If you’re out of work, or don’t have as much to spend on Christmas gifts as you have in the past, don’t be afraid to let people know. You would do yourself and them a favor if you adjusted their expectations in advance.
If you typically buy gifts for your entire family – your kids, nephews and nieces, aunts and uncles, grandma and grandpa, etc. – ask if you can draw names this year instead. My wife’s family decided to start doing this a few years ago, and it saved us all a lot of money and headache! Each person’s name goes in a box or a hat. Then each person draws a name and buys a gift for that person, instead of a gift for everyone.
Give white elephant gifts at your family or company Christmas party. This is a great (and no-cost) way to have fun and slough off something you’d love to get rid of. And who knows, you just might get something you could actually use!
Here’s a great gift-giving alternative for families and for companies: Ask people to pitch in together to donate money to a charity or cause you care about, instead of buying gifts for each other. I’ve known companies that matched whatever their employees donated. And I’ve known families that have given to the same charity year after year.

Any of these options can help you save money and reduce the stress of holiday shopping this year. Give one a try – it just might become one of your new holiday traditions!