WHAT? Did I just say CHRISTMAS SHOPPING? I know, it's August. Enjoy the summer, Lindstrom. Come on!
Psssst... here's my secret to low holiday stress... I start my shopping in the summer. This started two years ago when I was expecting two simultaneous stork deliveries right around Christmas. In fact, we were just praying to make it through Christmas with the Twinstroms on the inside. So, I spent the late summer and early Autumn months making sure I had all of the Christmas shopping all tied up because I didn't know how mobile I'd be come December.
The benefit, I realized, was that by the time December DID roll around that year, the only thing stressing me out was the fact that I couldn't pull my underwear up without assistance. Also, I had spread that holiday spending across the course of five months instead of one. Our bank account was thankful for not having been asked to run a marathon. It worked out so well that I did it again last year, and wouldn't you know it, holidays were stress free. *Editor's note: The Twinstroms were born four days after Christmas, so my stress comes the day after Christmas when I am charged with the task of turning our house from Christmas land to birthday land swiftly.
I have some shopping guidelines that help me to organize my shopping:
1. Online shopping is not only okay, but encouraged.
2. Never pay full price, UNLESS it is that ONE thing that they are dying for, and it NEVER goes on sale.
3. Each child gets one present for their birthday (I have an October birthday and the two aforementioned December birthdays, so birthday shopping gets lumped in), one present to open on Christmas Eve from us, stocking stuffers from Santa, and one "big" present from Santa.
4. Try to keep the spending and item amounts even for all the children.
5. Keep an organized spreadsheet of gifts for moments when memory doesn't serve and also to prevent impulse buys.
Then, I have color coordinated rubbermaid containers that are hidden in child-free areas within which I hide the presents for safe keeping until the unveiling.
As I mentioned, I never pay full price, and I do a TON of online shopping. Here are my sites:
- Woot is a site that sells off one discounted item per day. They have a few sites including kids.woot where I will frequently find great things for my kids, wine.woot where I never find things for my kids, and sellout.woot where they usually have things I've been personally coveting like projectors, computers, robot vacuums, and things I've never even heard of. I check the woot sites early in the morning and then think on it for most of the day before I decide to go back and purchase there. This rule prevents me from making impulse buys.
- 1 Sale A Day has five different categories of items they sell per day. I always check the family site for toys, movies, etc. In August one year, they had 100 Silly Bandz (or some approximation of) that they were offering for shipping only. I bought a few packages, and kept them on hand that year for Halloween trick-or-treaters, party favor bags, and stocking stuffers. I have also seen Amazon Kindles and Barnes and Noble Nooks on that site for great prices.
- One of my favorite sites for kid's stuff is called Zulily. You must sign up with your email address in order to shop at this site, but they feature great discounts from multiple retailers on things for babies and moms, including clothing, toys, and jewelry.
- If you remember nothing of what I share with you here, remember this. EVERY TIME YOU SHOP ONLINE, go to ebates FIRST. If you link to your favorite retailer through ebates, the site automatically collects a rebate from your purchase (a percentage of the purchase), and sends you a BIG FAT CHECK (that's what they call it). Anytime I do online shopping, I stop at ebates first to link through them. They have tons of retailers on their list that they are affiliated with, and I have gotten lots of money back from buying stuff that I was going to order online anyway. Sometimes the cash back only covers shipping or tax, but if it was something I was going to order online anyway... I'll take it.
- If you are looking for something original, handmade, or personal, etsy is your place. Different online shop owners host their shops through etsy. In fact, one of my favorite etsy shops is my dear friend Liv's etsy shop from Choosing Beauty.
There are tons more out there, these are just a few of my favorite tricks. Many online retailers feature a daily deal. That can be a good way to get a nice discount on gifts as well. Remember not to go overboard and that if you are prone to impulse buying you must know thyself. This may not be the greatest way to shop for you. For those who are looking for a way to keep your holidays stress free, I have found that starting the shopping early, and getting in on some nice discounts has made for a really happy family. I have the Twinstroms to thank for this revelation (and so much more).
Disclosure: I have not been compensated for ANY of the featured links included in this post. However, I have used some referral links where I may be rewarded for sales that originate from these links. Each site is a site I have bought from or used (multiple times) and have had great experiences with.
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