You’re a divorced mom, raising kids, working outside the home, keeping up with holiday school functions, and probably dealing with an ex who wants to change the holiday visitation schedule. That’s a recipe for taking all the holly jolly out of Christmas!
Lines, crowds and stress — if that describes your holiday shopping experience, you’re doing it all wrong. The cost of gifts and decorations can add up quickly, but there are plenty of ways to reduce the dent in your wallet and hold onto your holiday spirit.
Here are 8 money and time-saving tips to minimize your single mom holiday shopping stress:
Budget: Don’t just pick a number out of thin air. Make a list of everyone receiving gifts this year and come up with individual budgets. Then assess whether that total amount is doable, and rework each gift if it’s not. (Keep reading for money-saving tips!)
Make a gift list: From your nearest and dearest to coworkers and teachers, write down everyone you need to shop for and assign a dollar amount next to each name. Online gift guides make it simple, with gift ideas categorized by price point. This will help you stay organized and setting price limits will keep your budget on track.
Review the deals: Collect all the ads from your favorite stores and use them to create your shopping plan of attack. When the day comes, get to the store early for the best selection and savings.
Don’t procrastinate: The easiest way to overspend on holiday gifts is to wait until the last minute. Shopping at the latest possible moment adds unnecessary stress. For the people on your gift list who are impossible to buy for, a gift card can be a favorite that’s sure to get a smile.
Follow brands on social media: Check out your favorite brands on social media, where you can likely find up-to-the-minute info on savings right in your news feed. Many companies post special promotions, news, and last-minute sale announcements every day, especially during the holidays.
Shop savvy with your smartphone: Before you head back for seconds of Grandma’s desserts, finish your wish list. Mobile apps can make it easy to search for your favorite items. If you find a gift in a store that breaks your budget, use your phone to search for a better price elsewhere. Some stores will price match if you show them another retailer selling the same product at a lower rate.
Don’t overlook shipping costs: An online item might seem like a steal compared to the in-store version – until you see the shipping charge. Remember to take note of any extra delivery or service fees, as well. Many retailers offer free, fast delivery on many items.
Make Like Martha: If it’s the thought that counts (i.e. if money is especially tight), turn a hobby into a gift-making sesh and hang two ornaments with one tree branch. (Yeah, we went there.) By boosting creativity and self-esteem, hobbies can be a better way to relieve stress than passive activities like watching the tube. Plus, homemade gifts may be cheaper and seem more personal. Handmade jewelry or baked goods are perfect for the girl or guy who has everything.
When All Else Fails, Etsy.com: Since Amazon has become the twenty-first-century version of Santa’s workshop, a whole world of online shopping has been opened to us. So why not take advantage of it? If there’s anything I learned from being obsessed with online vintage shopping, it’s that Etsy is where it’s at. It’s like a virtual mall full of boutique shops with handmade clothes, home goods, accessories, and the like.
For those who love to connect with shop owners and buy unique items, Etsy offers a platform that allows you to interact with them, ask questions, and feel like your purchase is supporting someone’s craft. Overall, it’s a more personal shopping experience, which makes the gift feel more personal. And let’s not forget the main point, which is that you’re shopping from the comfort of your own home and not fighting the masses.
Follow these tips to accomplish all your holiday shopping goals and get back to enjoying the season with loved ones.