Some sources of holiday stress we just can’t help you with. Uncle Robert’s oft-repeated lame jokes and boring stories will still haunt your holiday dining table like the dry fruitcake no one wants. But maybe we can help reduce other kinds of stress, like SIS for instance. SIS? Shopping-Induced Stress. Here are 10 ways to make holiday shopping and gift-giving a little easier and less stressful this season.
1. Make a list and have a budget
Hey, even Santa uses a list, and he’s been in the gift-giving business for a long time! Start by writing down all the names of the people you need to get gifts for. But don’t stop there; make sure you also attach a dollar amount to each one. This will help you stay on track with your budget. Did we mention having a set budget? Have a budget! (And try to stick to it.)
2. Use your phone to comparison shop
If you’re out shopping and you find the perfect gift for someone on your list, but it’s over your budget, reach for your phone. To call for help? To seek emotional support from a trusty enabler? No! You can use your phone to see if you can find a better price somewhere else. Search for the product online; quite a few stores offer price-matching policies that might help you get a better deal and stay within your budget.
3. Shop online
There are so many ways that shopping online can help reduce your Shopping-Induced Stress during the holidays. Obviously, it’s much easier to shop from the comfort of your home, sitting at your computer in your pyjamas, sipping hot chocolate. But don’t forget to research online deals using retailer websites, shopping apps and websites that monitor and track bargains. You can also use your social media network to ask for advice and get personal reviews.
And don’t forget Free Shipping Day, which this year is Friday, Dec. 14. More than 1,000 online retailers will offer free shipping on that day with promised delivery by Dec. 24.
4. Order online, pick up in-store
If ordering online appeals to you but the shipping time or costs are a concern, more and more retailers are offering services that let you buy a product online and then pick it up in-store for free, sometimes on the same day (some stores even offer a drive-through option). Look for in-store pick-up options from such popular retailers as Apple, Hudson’s Bay, Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond and Nordstrom, to name a few.
5. Let your inbox work for you
Some retailers save their prime deals for their most engaged customers. So if there are stores or brands that you particularly like, make sure you sign up for their email list so you can get exclusives on any sales promotions and discounts that the general public doesn’t see.
6. Do some research
Got someone on your list who’s hard to buy for? If you want to know what they’d like in their stocking, you could do some research online. If you follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, see if there is anything they are “liking”, commenting on or “pinning” that might give you some ideas as to what their heart desires.
7. Have an app-y holidays
Reduce the stress of holiday shopping? There’s an app for that! Several, in fact. One you might want to try is Santa’s Bag, which lets you capture and store all your gift ideas to help you keep your shopping organized. You can also use it to save gift receipts, which can help you track your spending. And even if your curious little elves get their hands on your phone, the app is password-protected, so your gift list will remain a secret between you and Santa. You can also use the Amazon app to search for deals when you’re out shopping. Look up a product by using the app’s search function, by scanning the barcode, or just take a picture of it.
8. Don’t forget gift cards
Gift cards are an especially good idea for people on your list who are hard to buy for, or for quick and easy gifts for your mail carrier, dog-walker or yoga instructor. But before you rush out to buy some, check to see if you have any unused cards lying around. It’s estimated that $1 billion worth of gift cards go unused each year. There’s nothing wrong with re-gifting a gift card that you don’t intend to use anyway. Or if you find you have long-forgotten gift cards stashed away, use them to help offset the cost of your holiday shopping.
9. Know what’s in store
If you do decide to brave the stores and the malls and the weather, it helps to have a strategy. At the mall, map out your plan of attack. Determine which stores you’re going to hit, in which order, and what you’re looking to get at each place. That way, you can get in and out as quickly and efficiently as possible, and spend less time fighting the crowds and more time sipping eggnog by the tree at home.
And when you do enter a store with a big sale on, remember that most of the stuff near the entrance will have likely been picked over already. Head to the back of the store, where most shoppers tend not to go. There may be undiscovered gems there.
10. Time to explore Amazon Prime
If you’ve been wondering whether you should sign up for Amazon Prime, now’s the time! Prime members get two-day shipping (sometimes even same-day) on millions of products – and that’s a great thing during the holiday shopping season. Plus, if you’re trying to get your mitts on the hottest toys and gadgets, choose the Free Release-Date Delivery option. Your purchases will be delivered by 7 p.m. on their actual release day.
And don’t forget that you earn Aeroplan Miles when you shop Amazon via the Aeroplan eStore, as well as some of the other retailers mentioned above, including Apple, Hudson’s Bay, Bed Bath & Beyond and 170+ more!
The eStore is also running various promotions throughout the holiday season that you should keep in mind: 12 Days of Gifting runs from Dec. 3–14, with a different offer revealed each day, and during the Boxing Week promotion, Dec. 20–31, members can earn up to 10X the miles!
Explore gift ideas, shop & earn via the Aeroplan eStore.