No matter how enthusiastic you are about Christmas shopping, or how much you love the season, everyone eventually gets stressed by the need to buy gifts for friends and loved ones. It takes hours of time to generate a list of people to buy gifts for, and longer to think of what gifts to buy (not to mention the process of actually buying them). And if you aren’t careful, you can stretch your budget paper-thin without even realizing it.
This season, take a proactive stance, and work to make holiday shopping easier on yourself—to save time, money, and hopefully, stress.
Handmake Your Gifts
Your first option is to handmake some of your gifts. If you’re a creative or artistic type, this will come second-nature to you, and you won’t have to worry about brainstorming or shopping to find the perfect gift. It might take some time to knit a sweater, carve wood, or paint a painting, but it’s going to cost you far less in materials than a similar gift would cost outright. Not only that, but your gift will have an additional personal touch to it—which store-bought gifts simply can’t match.
Even if you aren’t skilled in a particular area, there are plenty of ideas you can use for a crafty homemade gift.
Buy Similar Gifts for Multiple People
If you have lots of people to buy for, you can make things easier on yourself by getting them all the same thing—or type of thing. For example, you might get everyone that new kitchen gadget that everyone’s talking about, or select a bottle of wine for each couple in your social network. If you’re looking to make an even better impression, consider adding a personal element to each variation of the gift; for example, you could distribute personalized Christmas ornaments to save time while still doing something unique for each individual.
Consolidate Your Gift Giving
Similarly, you could consolidate your gift giving by focusing on one “big” gift divided among multiple people. For example, instead of getting both individuals in a couple a handful of different presents each, you could get them both a single weekend getaway. Instead of buying each of three kids a different gift, you could get them all a video game to share. Or instead of getting each of your friends something small, you could get them all a shared experience, like a paintball excursion.
Work With a Partner
Coming up with gift ideas is always better when you’re working with a partner, such as a spouse, family member, or trusted friend. Bounce ideas off each other, and don’t be afraid to steal ideas for non-mutual acquaintances. You’ll split the work in half and double the output—just make sure you don’t repeat the ideas you come up with for each other.
Make Donations on Behalf of Others
If you have a set budget for Christmas gifts, but you don’t want to go through the trouble of coming up with individual gift ideas, you could use the money to make donations on behalf of the people on your list. This is a thoughtful gesture in the spirit of the season that can spare you a ton of time and effort—just make sure you include something personal as well, such as a donation to a specific charity you know your recipient will appreciate, or a handwritten card that makes them feel recognized and valued.
Establish a Different Gift-Giving Tradition
You could also relieve some of the burden on yourself by establishing a different kind of gift-giving tradition, especially within your family or within your social circle. For example, if you’re used to a format where everyone gets a gift for everyone else, consider switching to a “Secret Santa” approach, where each person is only responsible for getting a gift for one other person, or a “white elephant” approach, in which, traditionally, gifts are brought from home out of pure convenience, and exchanged accordingly.
The holiday season may be stressful no matter how you spin it, but you can at least save yourself some time, money, and hassle by following these strategies. Start early, plan your gifts well in advance, and prepare a strict budget; as long as you play this smart, you can get a gift for everyone on your list without burdening yourself too much in the process.