It’s the beginning of December, and if you’re a thoughtful, prepared, caring person, congratulations: It’s your time to shine, buddy. But if you’re more like me — a selfish, very-last-minute, “gotta get mums something” type — gift-giving season can be trying, stressful and cause extreme agita. But this year, let’s you and I vow to avoid at least these seven most common holiday-shopping blunders and missteps, OK?
Waiting until the last minute
Dec. 24 is not the time to be shopping for Christmas presents, and you missed Hanukkah by like a week. Not only does last-minute shopping result in limited stock and less thoughtful gifts for your friends and family, it also makes the entire holiday season more stressful. You always have that “I have to go shopping” feeling hanging over every holiday party. Buying gifts early, though, allows you to both relax, and smugly feel superior over the lesser beings who didn’t get it together to finish shopping by Nov. 1. And isn’t that what the holidays are supposed to be about?
Gift-giving is supposed to be about expressing your feelings through thoughtful consumer purchases, but it’s often about cold, hard cash. It’s easy to fall into the trap of dropping way too much money on gifts, especially if you’re the kind of person who expresses your feelings for others through objects or if you’re trying to impress someone. But the person you’re buying for almost definitely doesn’t want you to go into debt to get them a new robot vacuum or something, so keep it realistic. Plus, what if they spent like $US10 ($14) on your gift? That makes everyone unhappy. Instead, start with a budget of how much you can realistically afford and work backwards from there — and don’t be afraid to discuss price-ranges with others.
There’s nothing worse than the feeling of someone handing you a thoughtful, perfect holiday present when you have literally nothing to give them in return. Don’t let this be you. Make a list of everyone you need to give a gift to and check ‘em off. If you want to be really prepared, and you don’t mind being a little sneaky, keep a small supply of “generic” gifts — scented candles, bottles of wine, etc. — on-hand to give to the person you forgot. It sucks, but it’s better than nothing.
Not planning ahead
Stepping into a mall with a pocket full of credit cards and no idea what you’re going to buy is a recipe for disaster. Instead, start with at least some idea of what you’re going to buy for whom. That way you’ll at least know what stores to head for. Being paralysed by too many choices is a real thing, and you can end up with generic, thoughtless panic-buys. That’s not good.
Getting enticed by discounts that aren’t actual discounts
I don’t want to name any names here (Amazon) but many retailers create the illusion of steep discounts and bargains by artificially jacking up the prices of items right before they go “on sale” so they can boast that slippers and self-stirring mugs are 50% off. There are a number of apps that track prices at various retailers over time (I like camel camel camel) to help you avoid falling into the fake discount trap.
Being a jerk at a “white elephant”
You know those gift-exchanges where you can “steal” someone else’s present instead of opening a new one? I once went to one of those at a work holiday party, and the head of the company gave a nice selection of whiskey as a present. Then, when it was his turn to either open a present or steal one, dude took his own gift. It was pointed out to him that this was unfair, and he said, “We didn’t make any rules about that” and since he was the boss, there wasn’t much anyone could do, so he went home with the whiskey. I know it’s specific, but don’t be like that guy. He’s a real jerk.
Not caring about presentation
It can be cute when a little kid gives you a present wrapped in newspaper with “hoppy holiday. Love, Junior” scrawled on a piece of construction paper, but you are (I presume) a fully grown adult, and wrapping a gift tastefully is well within your power. Even if it isn’t (and I say this as someone who is bad at these kinds of things) you can pay someone to do it for you at a local charity drive, or have it wrapped at the store or from the online retailer. Presentation is important.
The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans
Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.