I’d like to say that I start my holiday shopping early because I’m a super-efficient Wonder Woman, but truthfully, I start shopping in October because I tend to be a liiiittle forgetful… There’s always that last minute relative to buy a gift for, or a friend I need to send a card to. Or, I’ll have these great ideas for gifts only to find that they’re sold out in-store and I can only purchase them online, but the earliest it could ship is December 27.
So, I make my lists and check them twice before the season is in full gear — despite Facebook friends saying, “What do you mean you’re Christmas shopping already, just enjoy the fall!” Well, I do love the fall, and especially Halloween, but I also love being able to have the time to craft, find, and give heartfelt gifts to loved ones and friends, so I’ve found plenty reasons why early prep works. Here are a few!
1. Time to plan, of course
I’m lucky to live in an area where there’s always the option of going to a local gourmet store (Adam’s Fairacre Farms) where you can find tasty gift baskets for anyone, ranging from $20 to $50. Great when for a last-minute idea, but when you have time to plan you can focus on a truly personalized gift. Engraved wineglasses for a newly married couple, home necessities for your friend who just bought a house, a photo book with printed pictures and captions for your parents, the list goes on. Having just a little extra time can help with selecting the right glasses to engrave or photos to include.
2. DIY like a pro
The last thing anyone wants for Christmas is a Pinterest fail. Give yourself plenty of time to create (and re-do, if necessary) your DIY projects. This is why you’ll start to see holiday items in August at Michael’s, Joannes, and your other favorite craft stores. It’s to help you create the projects that you want to give, way in advance, so that you have time to perfect it and not have to scramble at the last minute to find a replacement if your crocheted scarf or hand-painted coasters don’t turn out quite as planned.
3. Opt outside
What started as a clever marketing campaign that benefits both outdoor enthusiasts and the environment, has turned into an annual tradition. A few years ago, REI Co-op started the #optoutside movement as a way to avoid the Black Friday shopping craze and get people exploring the great outdoors. They closed their store on Black Friday, which was an unprecedented move, and asked both employees and customers to be among the trees not the malls; to find the perfect view instead of the perfect sale; and enjoy the wonderful parks, trails, and natural beauty in their communities and beyond. Although I have twice in my life experienced the rush of finding really cheap items on a Black Friday sale, I’ve participated in this tradition for years and can say that it is much more fulfilling. Also, side note: Black Friday sales tend to extend beyond Black Friday these days!
4. The best cards are gone
I have this tradition with my brother: Every year for Christmas I’ll try to find the silliest card possible. Sometimes I’ll get him a Christmas card in another language without translation, once I got him one that’s “from the cat”, things like that. It’s become a fun part of the holiday that makes the family laugh. But, it started out of necessity… I’m usually a big card-giver and one year I was falling way behind on gifts, so of course I forgot to get cards. A few days before Christmas I went to Hallmark and there were hardly any choices: a few cheesy cards, a few childish cards, and then some really insincere ones that really aren’t even appropriate for the holidays. Every year, I’ve noticed that the card selection seems to dwindle earlier and earlier, as the cards are put out earlier and earlier. So, when you’re walking through the mall and you see Hallmark has their ornaments in the front window, and their Christmas cards all lined up, and you think, “Wow, it’s way too early for this — it’s not even Halloween!” It’s probably not a bad idea to just pop in and get first choice. Or else you’ll end up buying your brother a card that reads: “Merry Christmas to my favorite hairdresser!” (True story.)
5. Subscriptions take time
I wouldn’t normally have looked into subscription boxes but this was gifted to me one year and I was surprisingly impressed. (And no, this is not a sponsored post, I legitimately enjoy giving this gift!) Sample-sized beauty, fashion, and healthy living products, tailored to the recipients’ interests, are sent to their door monthly in attractive packaging. It’s a great idea for the person who has everything, or for moms who love beauty products, guys who appreciate skin care, and your commitment-phobe friends who like to try before they buy. It’s best to order early to ensure the first box gets delivered before the holiday.
6. DIY gift baskets for everyone!
One of my favorite gifts to give for any occasion, but especially the holidays, are homemade gift baskets. I love to create personalized packages from items I find at different shops and boutiques, and it’s easy to do. For instance, if you know a couple who likes to hang out outside and watch the sunset, you can create a wine and cheese picnic basket (two glasses, corkscrew, cheese plate, cheese knife, cloth napkins, picnic blanket, attractive basket). Or, if you know someone who is into spa and beauty products, you can put together items based on their favorite scents, their preference for natural products, or even their favorite colors. If you start early on your gift basket you won’t have to worry about going to six different stores in one day just to try to find all the perfect products. You can space it out over time and really find the best items for your package.
7. Get first pick at boxes and bags
If you’re holiday shopping in December, just tryyy to go to any store that sells clothing, and ask for a box with tissue paper. The cashier will laugh, and laugh, and laugh, then tell you, “Oh no, we ran out of those we before Thanksgiving.” So, to avoid having to use the cream-colored tissue paper that you saved from your last Marshall’s run, shop early for paper and boxes. Another tip — if you’re on a budget, check out the dollar store. Some of them have surprisingly cute packaging, from cookie tins, to gift bags, two multi packs of glove boxes and shirt boxes.
8. Avoid crazy crowds
I’m the kind of person who enjoys being around people and can tolerate a crowded mall, but I cannot staaand to be pushed passed by people who are mad dash in for the last red sweater, or shoving their way to get the TV on sale, cutting you in line, knocking you over with their shopping cart, the whole holiday shebang. You can lose the festive spirit pretty quickly in a crowded mall or department store mid-December.
9. Shipping times
This one needs no explanation. Unless you don’t mind spending extra on a rush-delivery.
10. It stretches the budget
I do like to give myself a budget for holiday shopping each year, but when you get a little something here, a little something there, it’s easier to stretch that budget if you realize Christmas week that you forgot to buy a Secret Santa gift for your coworker. (Not that it’s ever happened to me… … …)