It’s that time of the year where the days fly by, and we’re often left wondering how we’re going to meet our deadlines at work, catch up with everyone before Christmas, as well as buy the perfect gifts for our family and friends. As a result, we can often feel an enormous amount of stress…

For some people, Christmas shopping is a joy. They begin early in the year, and plan and organise their purchases well in advance. For others, it’s a last minute dash to the shopping centre, squeezed in between work, family and social get-togethers.

What about you? Have you started your Christmas shopping? If not, below are 5 tips which can help you survive the Christmas rush.

1. Plan plan plan

There is nothing more stressful than hitting the shops trying to remember who you want to buy for and what to buy them. Before you head out, write a list of all your family and friends that you wish to buy for. Next to the list, jot down how much you’re going to spend on each, as well as some gift ideas.

If you’re not sure what to buy or are desperate, purchase a gift voucher. Some people feel that gift vouchers lack the personal touch, but when you’re purchasing for someone who has everything or thinking about picky teenagers – buy them a gift voucher! This will save you the mental stress and time.

Also remember to stick to your budget and keep your receipts in case you’ve changed your mind, you’ve overspent, or found the gift elsewhere on sale.

2. Arrive at the shops early

As Christmas day quickly approaches, there will be many more people visiting the major shopping centres. If this is you, arrive early, first thing in the morning, before 9am. Our stress levels can quickly rise when we’re not able to find a car park or have to wait for one; it also cuts into our shopping time, which we don’t want.

Remember to also wear comfortable shoes; if you’re planning to shop all day, you may wish to reconsider thongs (or flip flops) as they do not provide good support! Try sneakers instead…

3. Do not over commit

Give yourself plenty of time to shop at a relaxed pace. If you’re constantly looking at your watch because you have to leave to attend a social event or another commitment, you will often impulse buy, and will leave disheartened and stressed. There is nothing more frustrating than knowing that you will need to plan another shopping trip to purchase X,Y,Z, so give yourself plenty of time.

4. Create your own gifts or visit local markets to support small businesses

Not sure what to buy? Sometimes the best gifts are homemade goodies or homemade crafts that come from the heart and have been created with love. There are heaps of Christmas recipes online as well as videos on how to create homemade gifts. If you’re feeling creative, give it a try – you might be surprised. If not, visit your local market – you will often find something unique and interesting, and at a great price too. Remember to bring cash with you, as some stall vendors may not have credit card facilities available.

5. Shop online

Don’t want to leave the comfort of your own home? Not interested in the shopping madness? Then shop online. Many online stores now offer a purchasing range which makes it easier for you to choose the right gift. Remember however, to check the delivery time to ensure it arrives in time for you to wrap it and personally deliver.

At the end of the day, pause and reflect on the true spirit and meaning of Christmas. It’s a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus with our family and the people we care the most; to be grateful for all our blessings and to remember and support those less fortunate. Even when we’re not having such a good day, donating some money, some food, or our time to a good cause, can help lift our spirits. This may help put our own gift shopping into perspective…

Until next time, wishing you all great health and wellbeing, and of course stress free Christmas shopping – good luck!

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