This time-saving tip will make my mother very unhappy as it goes directly against the proper etiquette I grew accustomed to as a child. Nevertheless, as we all juggle many jobs and tasks, I feel as though it may be invaluable for all of us women living a multi-tasking-crazed life.
When I grew up, gift buying was tricky. We didn’t have any technology going for us except for printing presses putting out a few discount coupons for a handful of big name retail stores right before Christmas. Big malls didn’t exist and everyone pretty much bought gifts from the same stores.
I remember going shopping with my mother for certain people on certain days to be sure not to cross path with them so they would not find out what gift had been handpicked for them before the big night. Shopping was nothing short of a chore because everyone knew everyone in town and everyone was spying on everyone else’s shopping cart. To make matters worse, my mother was a renowned teacher. It was nothing short of impossible to go to a store without being pulled over for a casual conversation about a kid’s grades and to be curiously asked who we were buying gifts for. Hard to keep anything a secret.
In those days, buying gifts was a big deal. It reflected not only your social status, but also how much you cared about someone. My mother descends from a noble family, therefore couponing was not an option. It was considered of poor taste. Gifts were to be bought ahead of time and in nice stores. Gifts were never duplicated because if one were to find out that they got the same gift as someone else from the same town or circle of friends, it would start a discussion of epic proportion. A discussion about whom was the better or older friend and who was worthier of a better gift. You simply didn’t go there. You didn’t want to take any action that your social status would suffer the repercussions from.
Things have changed since then. People are more relaxed with gift giving (maybe too much sometimes). Everyone is as busy as ever and understands everyone else around them is busy as well. Organizing and timing your shopping for the holidays is essential. When I ran my former company of 50 employees, I thought it was an important gesture to buy everyone a year-end gift as a token of my appreciation. I made a list of all the employees and what they liked (I gathered notes and kept tabs on what was happening in their personal lives such as a new house purchase, a new baby, etc…), then I went shopping with a purpose!
I am a big fan of saving money and of buying bulk, so wholesale stores such as BJ’s and Costco were my favorite to purchase gifts for the men. Second came Godiva and gift certificates to local restaurants because you can always please men with food. Bath and Body, Coach and Home Goods were my favorite go-to retailers for the ladies. I worked my way with the store managers to get additional discounts when I bought bulk quantities and ahead of the holiday season (before October 15). When I say bulk, I don’t mean I was buying 50 of the exact same item, but I was surely purchasing 20-30 variations of similarly-prices items in that store in one instance.
Wholesale stores do not offer gift wrapping so I made sure I included the purchase of gift bags in my budget. Gift wrapping was always included at smaller retail shops and cut down on my overall cost. I would make my bulk purchase and come back the next day or week to pick up all the gift-wrapped items.
Gift buying doesn’t have to be harder than it needs to be. Be mindful of the wonderful job marketers are doing to distract and confuse you. Never underestimate the power of an impulse-buy coupon. But remember to have the end in mind. What is it that you are trying to accomplish when holiday shopping? Shop easy, shop for everyone in a reasonable amount of time and within a budget. Shop online and no one will ever find out that you bought the same gift for 10 different people. You can ship 10 of the same item to 10 different addresses. Shopping online is a beautiful thing!
Buy bulk and stick to the list! This time-saving tip has been a life saver for holiday shopping over the years. The holidays are about having fun parties and family gatherings where you share and make memories. The heartfelt not you attach to each gift is what makes it and makes you special ;)
By Valérie Holstein