How to take the stress out of your Christmas shopping? Planning and minimalist tips

It’s that time of the year again – the holidays are near and so are all the shopping, gatherings and gifts.

But unless you’re a kid, we all know that Christmas often brings a lot of stress rather than relaxation and joy.

And if you are reading this, you’re probably interested in simplifying this part of your life as well. So let’s talk about minimalism and gifts.

Here are the best ideas you can implement to make gift-giving easier this year.

1. TALK TO PEOPLE

I believe a lot of times we can be so conditioned by society that we feel obligated to do something that maybe we don’t want to do. And that can translate into gift-giving as well.

Maybe we don’t have that extra money to spend, perhaps we don’t want to buy things for people we don’t really know that well, or we just decluttered and don’t want our home to get cluttered again.

But because giving gifts is an old tradition, we follow the ‘rules’ because we don’t want to be an outsider or a Debby Downer.

But if you ever felt like you aren’t particularly enjoying the whole gift-giving traditions and you want to make some changes, then here is an advice – share your thoughts with other people!

My experience

During my decluttering sessions, I realised how many gifts were unused and ignored. That gave me a reality check that maybe we don’t need that many presents and that there must be a better way to do this.

At the end of the day, neither you nor the person buying the present, want it to be sitting somewhere untouched.

That is why I decided to share my viewpoints with people who are close to me.

I had the conversation with each person individually so we could find a new solution that works for both of us:

  • I have a friend and she is really not bothered about gifts so we decided just not to do anything! And we’re both okay with that. 
  • With my partner, we agreed to share our wishlists with each other, to make things easier while also making sure we’ll use the items we get.
  • And with my family, we all agreed to do something simple, just as a token of appreciation and love.

Despite being afraid to share my opinions with others, I never regretted having the talk. And yes, some people will understand, while others might not, but something magical happens when you let people know how you truly feel – you feel free!

And maybe that is the gift you can give to yourself this year!

*NOTE: I’m not saying that giving gifts is wrong – I love buying and receiving gifts in a mindful way! But I also want people to understand that I don’t need presents and they can show me their love in some other way. Except for my husband, haha! He is the best gift-giver and I want the gifts to keep coming 😉

2. THE ‘NEW RULES’

So if you decided to share your thoughts, then here are some ideas what your new guidelines can be:

  • Share your wishlist: do you often find that you receive gifts that are not valuable to you? Why not create a wishlist that you can share with your partner or close friends, so they know what to get you? This way, they won’t have to stress what exactly to get. And if you keep the list longer, you’ll also keep the element of surprise because you won’t know what exactly you’re getting.
  • Set a budget: I think this is already a very common practice, but I also know people who are afraid to set up smaller amounts because they don’t want to disappoint or limit others. So make sure you are honest with yourself on how much you can afford to spend and stick to it.
  • No gifts: this may sound extreme, but for some people, it works! If you aren’t really worried about the gifts and you find someone who feels the same, then go for it! It’s surprisingly freeing 🙂
  • Find the mutual purpose of gifts: when I tried to explain I don’t need anything to my mum, she couldn’t understand it. She wanted to show me how much she loved me through gifts and that is why she couldn’t keep it simple, even though she wanted to. Then I had to honestly share with her, how many of her gifts I decluttered, or I wasn’t using. And even though this may sound extreme or mean, it helped her understand that gifts do not equal love. I also did my part and I asked her why does she love buying gifts for me, so we could both find a middle ground – and that solution was that she checks her gift ideas with me. This way she still gets the thrill of shopping for me and I get something I will use. And we got to this point by understanding what the meaning of gifts for us is.
  • Declare gift-giving season for the entire year: do you know that moment when you accidentally see something that would be perfect for someone but it’s not their birthday and Christmas is still far away? And then, when it’s their birthday, you can’t seem to find anything useful? That has happened to me too many times. So if you and the other person can relate to this, maybe you can agree, that gift-giving is okay only in cases when you want to surprise someone with something you’ll know they’ll love even if it’s for no special holiday.

3. BUT WHAT ABOUT PEOPLE YOU DON’T KNOW VERY WELL?

Talking to people about gifts was probably the most freeing thing I’ve ever done because it applies not only to Christmas but also birthdays and all the other events.

But I feel like having ‘the talk’ with people that are either my colleagues or accountancies is unnecessary. It can take all the fun out of gift-giving, and there is usually a better way to do it.

And that way is to keep it light.

I remember when I was wrecking my head about what to buy for everyone, despite not knowing them very well.

Now I follow a few simple guidelines that keep me from stressing out and make sure that gift shopping is a breeze:

  • I remind myself that I don’t know them so well and that I should take it easy. The best that I can do is give them a little token of appreciation to show them I thought of them.
  • I also remind myself of what is the whole point of gifts. A while back I was researching why gifts are even a thing – and the best answer I could find was that the point is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes so you can figure out what they want. Even though we might argue there are better ways to show our love, I make the best out of this and I awarely put myself in their shoes and go from there.
  • And the best tip – I keep a list of gift ideas that I use when in doubt. 

4. PLANNING 101

One of the biggest reason we can feel stressed is the lack of planning – we keep postponing getting the gifts and then before we know it, it’s the middle of December, the stores are jam-packed and we still don’t have any clue on what to get next.

I’m proud to say my husband and I already bought most of the gifts in November. Two years ago we decided to buy everything before the madness a.k.a. December starts, and so far it’s going great.

And not just that, we purchased everything quickly in one day. How? By planning.

Here are the exact steps you need to take so you too can nail this Christmas shopping:

  • Write a list of all the people you want to buy gifts for: Instead of mentally carrying the list of people in your head, put it on the paper!
  • Write what you want to get them: the biggest mistake I made in the past was going to the stores hoping I would stumble upon something for the person I had in mind and I will buy it there and then. But what really happened is I wondered the stores without a clue what to get and I wasted a lot of my time. So now, I fill out the list in the comfort of my own home with the help of the internet and my husband. 
  • Start by writing down the gift ideas you already have, and leave the harder ones for later. If you want, you can also check the stores online to see if anything sparks your interest. But make sure you don’t overthink it.
  • If you feel like something on your list might be tough to find, then write a substitute for it. In the past, I was so stubborn and if I had the idea to get someone something I was looking for it everywhere, even though nothing was satisfactory enough for me to buy it. Let’s just say I wasted a lot of my time and energy for nothing. Now, I’m smarter and if I know I’ve written down something that might be harder to resource, I add a substitute that I can find easily. This takes away a lot of stress.
  • Plan for a shopping day: when you’ve completed your list, then all that is left to do is go shopping. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing it in person or online, I recommend you take the time to do everything at once. So put the date in your calendar and you’re good to go! 😉

Whatever your take is on gifts, by planning and talking to other people you’ll make this a much more enjoyable experience for yourself and people around you.

And yes, not all people will understand you, even after you thoroughly explain your ideas to them, but at least you’ll feel better for expressing your thoughts.

I hope this blog post helps you with the Christmas madness and gift-giving.

How do you feel about gifts? Do you love them or not so much? Let me know in the comments below 😉

And if you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by sharing it! Thank you!

If you want to read more, check out my latest posts!

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