Ok, so, it is well known that I am not a planner...I tend to deal with what is in front of me and see what happens. Christmas is, then, a pain...always sneaking up on me after 11 and half months of warning.
There's a faction of RTL Today's readers that DO not like the Do's and the Don'ts, saying in polite speak 'FU, I won't DO what you tell me', like we are trying to bring down freedom of choice with some (largely sarcastic and generally lightweight) tips and tricks.
So, it seems pertinent out the outset to state Do - as you please and Don't - treat this as gospel.
Now, with the elephant in the room both addressed and welcomed to sit down for a cuppa, we can begin.
Christmas shopping is an awful pain in the bum. For those that abhor shopping at the best of times and are then forced into crammed stores jostling for tat that'll be reduced further in the weeks after Xmas, the crazed grabbing of costly items seems like a stupid way to spend your time and money.
Yes, yes, Grinch me up, but I do LIKE Christmas, just not the whole 'SPEND ON GIFTS TO PROVE YOUR LOVE' ethos.
However, as I settle down on Christmas day in my new threads and my hypocrite pants (UK meaning), I'll have spent hundreds of euros on items that will be cast aside, dull thanks will be offered and received, and as the sounds of a million Christmas compilations peter out, all that is left is waste and want. Avarice is what it wants and wants are rarely sated.
Without further ado - let's look at some ways to best arm yourself for the most terrifying of experiences. The last minute gift buying spree.
Don't - rush out in a blind panic and grab anything and everything. Most gifts bought in this state of mind will be poorly chosen and will likely bring a grimace and a withering sense of disappointment.
Do - keep the receipts. You know, just in case.
Do - weigh up whether or not the recipient is going to genuinely understand the value attributed to the gift - a last minute expensive gift is worth far, far less than a cheaper well though out pressie.
Don't - compensate with lots of little gifts that are of little or no consequence. YES, heaps of gifts look wonderful under the tree but over spilling drawers rammed with unwanted gifts manage to stay around longer than uranium deposits.
Don't - go over budget: stick to your guns. One of the biggest traps of last-minute shopping is going over budget. Before you brave any store, make a list of how much you'd like to spend on each person you are buying for. Resist the urge to splurge, and leave the store as soon as you've crossed everyone off your list. Why? There are psychologists involved with shopping and linked items in stores, they know your willpower is bordering on none, and making you go 'ooohhh such and such would love that...and that.'
Do - resist the urge of the impulse buy. As per the above, soon as you step through the threshold, you'll be wowed by special prices, limited editions and exclusives - stay focused.
Do - keep moving - eyes on prize: Retailers have a few tricks up their sleeves to get you to linger in their stores, such as playing catchy holiday music and scenting the air with pleasant holiday smells, making it more likely you'll buy something on impulse. Do - get online BUT be wary of the vortex and the linked buys. Most online retailers guarantee delivery up to a few days before Christmas - you can avoid the hustle and bustle of the holiday crowds. Delivery to the door is also nice - despite the excess packaging that results.
Do - give Gift Cards/Experience Cards: Virtually every retailer offers gift cards now, so forget the idea that plastic is an impersonal gift. After all, who wouldn't want to go on a shopping spree at one of their favorite stores and actually get something they WOULD like?
Don't - buy clothes. Always a tricky one. Just don't. Even if you think you know, you don't and there is nothing worse than getting the wrong size.
Do - avoid unnecessary toiletry gift sets. Bulky packets AND often repeat buys.
Don't - give an animal UNLESS you intend to treat that animal as a family member, and, well, if you treat your family like shit then don't bother. The animal deserves better.
If you DO decide to give an animal as a gift DO also consider a shelter.
Don't - create excess waste, where possible. It's a nightmare, agreed, that packaging comes thick and fast. Where you can, avoided unnecessary ribbons, paper, balloons. Bells. Whistles.
Do - if you are going the wrap way use a free wrapping service (available at a lot of stores), which if you don’t mind waiting around for a while is a big bonus. Some online shops will also offer this service for a supplement.
Do - gift foods - though be careful of allergens: the way to anyone's heart is through their stomach, right? If you're a whizz of a baker, cookies or cakes are the way to go. If you want to give something tangible, wrap them up on a pretty cookie platter or in a festive holiday tin.
Do - be creative: Do you have a special talent, such as painting, pottery-making, or photography? Or maybe you're an expert on car repair, childcare services, or dog-walking? Create a coupon offering your service to be used in the weeks to come. It will take some of the pressure off having to have a gift in time for the holidays, and the recipient will love the thoughtfulness of your gesture.
Do - know when to stop: Once you've bought for everyone on your list, stop shopping. It sounds simple enough, but often times, the urge to find the perfect gift compels anxious shoppers to keep going.
Don't - get your timings wrong: some stores close earlier on select days whereas others extend their hours. Take a look before hand to avoid being the one whose nose is pressed against the glass.
Do - time it right for bargains: some shops will already have started discounting by Christmas Eve, so if you have a specific gift in mind then you might get lucky by leaving it this late to shop. There is a balance to be struck though – the best bargains are usually to be found the later you wait, but of course you risk finding what you want is all sold out.
Do - plan better for next year.