Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday shopping can be an adventure

If you have travel plans for the holidays, you're probably trying to finish your gift shopping as soon as possible. It's almost the deadline for mailing packages, which should be wrapped in plain paper, not festive red and green Santa styles.

So you may be in for a real adventure during the days left before Christmas. It’s getting late to place online orders, and stores are overflowing with harried, short-tempered clerks. 

Put a smile on your face, and tackle the task with the same enthusiasm as hiking your favorite trail.  Here are tips from Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Retail Management to help you zip through your last-minute shopping spree.

Specialty shops may be a better option
for gifts than a mall.
Buy the same gift for friends and relatives—maybe choosing different colors or themes.  Make it your signature gift, a tradition to follow each year.

If you know a retailer is holding a sale, try shopping after 6 p.m. the night before it starts.  Often discounts are already marked.

Comparison shop via the Internet, even if you buy in a brick and mortar store.

Create a personalized gift basket that suits a particular person.  If creating multiple baskets, you can buy in bulk and divide items among the baskets.

Give gift cards; holiday dollars go further after Christmas Day.

Consider alternate gifts such as charitable donations, movie or concert tickets, spa packages, hotel or airline credits, etc.

Keep packages delivered to your car out of sight--covered or in the trunk.

And a few more tips I’ve learned through the years:
  • If funds are tight, put the cash you’ve allotted for gifts in an envelope.  Shop until it’s gone, and then stop.  You’re through.
  • If you must take kids to the mall, feed them first—cuts down on whining for snacks.
  • Make your own gift certificates for things you can do to help friends or neighbors.
  • Regifting isn’t a sin—if the item is in excellent condition and you pass on something the new recipient will love.
  • Hum along with the piped-in music; familiar tunes make time spent looking through racks and shelves more enjoyable and help you remember the real meaning of Christmas.

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