Tis the season for good spirit, good cheer, and good tidings. Yet somehow Christmas shopping doesn’t quite fit into that equation. For many, it is the ultimate challenge–the deadline, the budget, the crowds, and the eternal question of what to buy for whom. Don’t let shopping suck the joy out of your season, though! This guide will help you navigate through the pre-holiday season so that you have time to focus on other enjoyable activities: decorating, planning parties, or just plain kicking back with your friends and family.
Read on to get some basic pointers on how to buy Christmas gifts, along with some ideas for traditional Christmas decoration presents and alternatives to classic gift giving.
Who Gets a Gift?
Before getting to specific gift ideas, you need to have a very clear and organized point from which to start. Otherwise, you can either A) forget to buy for important people in your life, or B) spend much more money than planned. A simple way of tackling the issue is to sit down for about 15 to 30 minutes and do some brainstorming at least a month in advance (if not further) of the holiday season. The earlier you develop a strategy, the easier it will be to casually shop around for deals, receive any shipments that you order, and cautiously work within your budget. For a good head start, holiday planning should start around the end of October.
The first list you need to make is one that includes everyone you know you want to shop for. This may include:
Immediate and extended family, or your in-laws.
Coworkers, business contacts, clients, or your boss.
People from your social circle, including friends, acquaintances, neighbors, postal workers, and the like.
Categorize who is an A list (someone you HAVE to buy for), a B list (someone you probably should buy for, and a C list (someone you would like to buy for if you have the money to do so).
It never fails–you think you have finished your shopping, then lo and behold, long lost Auntie May shows up at your door with something for you. To keep in good graces with everyone during the holidays, you might want to set aside a few bucks to get some “safety gifts.” This way, if someone stops by unexpectedly with a gift or you accidentally forget a key person on your list, you’ll be in the clear. A fail-safe way of avoid this awkward situation is to buy a few inexpensive, generic items to have wrapped and ready to go for when you have a spontaneous present swap. Small gift baskets (pre-made or homemade), chocolates, wine or champagne, baked goods, Christmas ornaments, bath and body gifts, scarves, picture frames, or other small trinkets can be wrapped (and left untagged) so that you can give them on the spur of the moment.
How Much to Spend
Since it’s the thought that counts, you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg on gifts; set your budget and stick to it! With that in mind, after you have established who you need to shop for, estimate what you can afford to spend. This is an important step: staying as far out of the red as possible is the key to a happy holiday.
Estimate how much each gift will cost.
When in doubt, always round up.
Don’t forget to include costs for shipping and tax when ordering online.
Tally up how much you expect to pay for these gifts and decide if this is realistically within your budget. Based on your original figures, you may need to cut some corners and recalculate how much you can truly afford.
If you are an impulsive shopper, you might want to set aside one credit card with a particular limit so you can’t go beyond your budget. Alternately, you could use a prepaid credit card: once the holiday fund is gone, it’s gone.
Hot 2010 Holiday Gifts
Xbox 360 with Kinect
With 250 gigabytes, the new Kinect motion sensor system, and a ton of hot new games coming out this season, now might be the time to get an Xbox for one of your loved ones.
Canon PowerShot SX210 IS 14.1 MP Digital Camera
With a 3.0 inch LCD viewing screen and HD video, this is the gift you will want to give early so your recipient can record all those wonderful holiday memories.
A unique gift that will surely be put to good use. It organizes rings and bracelets and keeps necklaces untangled. As a bonus, it looks stylish sitting on a dresser.
This little guy will jump off your nightstand and wheel around, sounding an alarm and robotic noises until you catch him and turn him off. Perfect for the snooze alarm enthusiast in your life.
Wow Wee Paper Jamz Guitar
Play one of three preprogrammed songs or practice chords on your own with this innovative paper guitar from Wow Wee.
LEGO Ultimate Building Set
You can’t go wrong with a giant bucket of LEGOs–for ages four and up anyway. These ultimate series buckets have everything your child needs to build to his or her heart’s content.
Wireless Key Finder
A handy way to keep track of easily lost keys. Provided you can find them and add the attachment, of course.
With wireless internet access, 16-64 gigs of memory, and infinite applications available online, the iPad has redefined the both the eReader and the portable media player.
Sometimes you just want to buy someone something that evokes the spirit of Yuletide cheer. Gifts gilded, green, or red fit the bill along with these classic Christmas decor items that will make every Scrooge a tad more apt to joining in on the festivities.
An authentic nutcracker is a wonderful idea for the shelled nut lover. Hobby- or profession-related nutcrackers are fun to give to friends and family.
There are several different variations of this traditional decoration, including natural wreaths,synthetic wreaths,lighted wreaths, and football team wreaths.
Get personalized Christmas stockings to hang above your fireplace or decorate your walls.
Indoor and outdoor nativity scenes are a fitting way to celebrate the birth of Christ.
From the simple round ball to the highly artistic bauble, make sure you have enough ornaments so you don’t have a bare tree this year.
A cute way to hang the stockings. How else are you going to get them to stay up on the fireplace?
A reindeer topiary will make your house stand out in the neighborhood.
Candles with Christmas scents and in festive colors really put you in the holiday mood.
These collectible figurines are perfect for decorating around the house.
Angel Tree Topper
Don’t leave your tree top bare! An angel topper can add the final touch to your trimmings.
Christmas Collector’s Plates
Bust out these plates for the family Christmas dinner, hang them on the wall, or display them in the curio cabinet. Don’t forget a plate for Santa!
Christmas Village Sets
Tabletop village sets are a festive addition to the decor. They’ll make your living room feel like a winter wonderland, minus all the cold.
Precious Moments Christmas
These baby-themed Christmas decorations can warm the hearts of even the grinchiest of grinches.
Norman Rockwell Figurines
Inspired by some of Rockwell’s most famous holiday illustrations.
Christmas Hummel Figurines
These figurines depict timeless memories of childhood and classic holiday scenes.
Buying gifts is easy for the most part when you know what to get someone. But what happens when you are shopping for the person who has everything? The person who hates clutter? The person who says that he or she doesn’t want anything? These can be some of the hardest people to shop for. In order to get around this potential road block you have to think creatively. Here are some non-standard ideas to try this holiday season.
Host a Christmas party.
Invite all of your friends over for a shindig and specify no gifts. Prepare food, drinks, music, and entertainment either with the help of a planner or on your own, depending on how elaborate you want the party to be. Again, make a budget before you start undertaking this project and, as usual, plan well in advance
Make your own gifts.
Crafts, homemade foodstuffs, and baked goods are fun and easy on the wallet. While they will cost you some time, your work will pay off as you can give your friends and family unique, yet thoughtful items. More homemade ideas include mix CDs, a blown up photo in a nice frame, a Christmas wreath, or a sentimental poem in a decorative frame.
Put together a family recipe book.
Record a series of audio books from your collection to give to a friend.
Compose a song and play it for the recipient.
Give out IOU coupons.
These won’t cost you a penny, but they could save someone a bundle. Plan to give your time to someone this Christmas instead of a physical gift. Set a date to do one of the following chores for someone you care about:
Babysit or take the kids out to the zoo, park, etc.
Dog- or cat-sit.
Shovel the driveway.
Invite the recipient out for coffee and a conversation.
Take care of the housecleaning.
Offer a neck massage.
Teach someone a skill you have.
Make a donation.
Spend money on a charity or fund that your friend or family member would approve of and put the donation in his or her name. For example:
Saving the rain forest.
Adopting an endangered animal.
Sponsoring a child overseas.
Giving people in a third world country something they need. You can visit Oxfam for more information.
Be the bringer of a new experience. There are many gifts that give the gift of a memory, from sky diving or to a dinner cruise to becoming a chef for a day or enjoying a relaxing visit to the spa. See our guide to experiential gifts for more ideas.
Get them something out of this world. Let your gift recipient name a star.
Buy someone one unit of stock in a company that is related to his or her interests.
Buy someone a subscription to his or her favorite magazine.
Gifts for All Budgets
Guide to Stocking Stuffer
Hot Holiday Gifts
Men and Women
Christmas Gifts for Gamers
Boyfriends and Girlfriends
Holiday Toy Guide
Electronic Gifts for the Holidays
Christmas Gifts for Beauty Lovers
Gifts for Christmas Birthdays
Christmas Gifts for Geeks
Christmas Gifts for Writers
Christmas Gifts for Artists
Christmas Gifts for Students
Christmas Gifts for Musicians
For this resource in your home country, please see:
FR: Achats de Nol, Guide des Cadeaux et Fleurs