Christmas is one of the most celebrated times of the year and finding the perfect Christmas gifts for your family and friends is one of the season’s biggest rewards. There is nothing more exciting than nailing the perfect gift and hearing those yelps of giddy praise and excitement.
With that in mind, finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list takes some meticulous planning and creativity. The holidays are hectic, so you can’t expect to find your treasure on the first try. You’ll also want to make sure your gift is unique and something unexpected. Selecting that amazing one-of-a-kind gift doesn’t happen on its own, but with careful analysis, planning, and foresight, you can be well on your way to being the hero of the holidays!
This article should help you navigate the gift-giving holidays with ease. After reading this article you should be able to master these questions and tackle the shopping scene like a champ. No more feeling overwhelmed and stressed by the demands of the holidays, you’re ready to make shopping fun again. Let’s get started and cover these important gift-giving puzzles:
- How do I plan and budget for the holidays?
- How do I select the right gift for each person?
- How do I personalize my gift?
- How do I keep track of my gifts and make sure it stays a surprise?
Planning and Budget
A major part of any effective shopping plan is a firm budget. A budget helps direct every aspect of the shopping experience from which stores to visit when to buy your ticket items. Here is a summary of how to set up your budget as well as a detailed step-by-step process for establishing your budget and sticking to it!
- Review Current Finances
- Plan Specific Shopping Dates
- Identify Your Gift Recipients
- Develop Tracking System
- Determine Payment Method
Step 1: Your Finances
The first and most obvious step is to take a clear look at your finances. If you don’t already track your expenses monthly, now would be a good time to sketch out your monthly expenditures and evaluate how much free spending money you have after all your fixed expenses like rent or mortgage, utilities, car payment, and prescriptions are paid.
Hopefully, you’ve already begun saving for Christmas and you can multiply your average monthly spending money by the number of months you plan to contribute to the Christmas fund. This will give you a base budget and is a great starting point for the rest of the process.
It’s recommended to start this process 4-6 months before you plan to buy. In addition, you must remember that the Christmas holidays bring about more expenses than just gifts.
There are many supplemental items that should also be considered. Here are just a few additional expenses most people don’t think about:
- Gift Wrapping
- Holiday Decor
- Travel Expenses
Step 2: Plan Shopping
After carefully analyzing all of your holiday expenses and locking your Christmas budget, you’ll want to do a big-picture review of the calendar. Are there date blocks and other holidays that will offer an opportunity to get some of your items on sale?
Depending on how early you begin to plan, Labor Day and Black Friday tend to offer some major bargains especially on big ticket items like electronics and jewelry. Plan to check the advertisements for anything on your wish list and capitalize on the discounts offered during those time frames.
It is also recommended that you dedicate multiple weekends to your shopping extravaganza, spacing your outings at good intervals throughout the year.
You don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket because that can be exhausting, stressful and disappointing. Instead, you’ll want to plan multiple outings to give yourself time to change routes or come up with a new strategy if you can’t find everything on your wish list during the first round. Additionally, waiting until the last minute defeats the purpose of finding a good gift. You’ll feel rushed and strained to purchase something even if it isn’t the perfect fit.
Step 3: Gift Recipients
Next, you’ll want to identify who will be included on your gift-giving list this year. Your initial list will most likely include immediate family, significant other, and close friends.
It’s tempting and natural to believe that these folks will be the only ones you have to buy for this holiday season, but consider leaving a little room in your budget for other unexpected scenarios.
For example, will you be attending a holiday party and feel obligated to bring a gift for the host? Does your office team do an elephant gift exchange? It’s best to set some money aside for these circumstances.
With this step, you’ll also want to determine how much of your budget will go towards a gift for each person on your list. It’s recommended that you focus the majority of your energy and budget on the person or persons on your list that mean the most to you.
Consider all the factors involved: Do you want to invest the most in someone you don’t see often? Is your partner’s love language gifts? Is it extremely important to them to receive something extravagant? All of these questions are important for determining where to send the bulk of your budget.
Step 4: Tracking System
Finally, you’ll want to keep tabs on your spending and make sure everything aligns with your established budget along the way. There are many free personal finance apps available in the market that can help keep you on target. You can also track spending in a simple excel document.
Regardless of the route you choose, tracking your spending is an important step in the process and will save you stress in the long run.
Step 5: Payment Method
Last, but not least, it’s important to consider what form of payment you will use to make your purchases. If possible, avoid using a credit card. Instead, use cash or debit so you pay for everything up front and aren’t stuck with paying off your purchases at a later time.
If you absolutely must use a credit card, research your card’s reward system and figure out how you can use the reward points to contribute to your gift-giving this year.
These five steps are important for getting you off on the right foot with your holiday shopping!
Now that you’ve taken the time to plan and budget, it’s time for the fun stuff! Let’s get started on selecting that perfect gift for everyone on your list!
Selecting the Right Gift
The best part of the process is selecting that perfect gift for your special someone. Similar to the rest of the process, shopping does take planning and attention to detail.
There is a true psychological component to giving a quality gift that will be loved and cherished. You need to take the time to get to know the person’s wants, needs and desires and pick up on subtle hints of things they might need or want.
Choosing a gift that doesn’t even closely resemble their interests can come off as uncaring and impersonal, so take your time!
Here is a summary as well as a detailed step-by-step process for thinking about what to purchase this holiday season.
- Pay Attention
- Put Yourself in Their Shoes
- Create a List
- Add a Personal Touch
Pay Attention: In order to purchase a gift that your receiver will enjoy, you need to keep your eyes and ears peeled. You don’t want to get them something they already own, so do some snooping and figure out what they need or if they own something that could be replaced or upgraded.
If you’re diligent, you will also be listening closely. Do they mention that they need to have more time? Have they complained that they’re under stress and could use a massage? Are they constantly talking about a particular television commercial for the latest gadget?
You can pick up a lot of helpful gift-giving info if you just take the time to listen.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes: If you truly want to give the gift of a lifetime, put yourself in the shoes of your recipient. Think about the values this person holds dear and how they spend their time.
What are their hobbies? Are they adventurous? Would they prefer a material gift or the opportunity to try something new?
All of these questions play a role in narrowing down your gift options. Try to generate a list of characteristics, qualities and interests that your recipient represents.
This gives you a better perspective on the situation. Regardless, it is important to remember that the gift is not for YOU.
It’s for your loved one, so spend a little extra time thinking through their lens.
Create a List: Now that you’ve spent time snooping around and pondering your friend’s wants and needs, it’s time to connect the dots!
Start making a list of all the potential gifts as they relate to your thoughts and ideas on the recipient’s needs. You might create multiple options so you’re not limited to your search.
You can do it the old fashioned paper and pencil way, but there are many list apps designed specifically for Christmas shopping. Amazon also offers a free wish list service. It might be worth your while to have your friends and family create a wish list.
This will get you going in the right direction and you can later add your own personalized spin to whatever gifts they have listed.
Once you have an idea of what you want to get them, shop around online for the best prices. Many retailers offer similar products around the holidays and you can find the same product at varying prices.
Make sure you have an idea of what is reasonable so you can know when to snag and when to wait while you’re out shopping.
Add a Personal Touch: After you have made your purchases it’s time to put a personalized spin on your gift.
Even if the gift is store bought, it is nice to include a note or some other personalization that explains the thought behind the gift. Get crafty and use poetry or some other witty language to identify why the gift was purchased.
You might also consider giving a homemade gift. Homemade gifts are really heartfelt and show true love as you will put your personal time and energy into the gift.
You can give homemade presents as stand-alone gifts, or incorporate them with your store bought gift. Here are some popular homemade gift options:
- Acts of Service Coupon Book
- Ornament Collection
- Knitted Outerwear
- Jewelry or Keyrings
- Beer or Wine Opener
The most important thing to remember is that great gifts come from the heart.
It doesn’t matter how much the gift costs or where it comes from as long as it comes with thought and careful consideration for what the person would want.
Surviving the Wait
Now that you’ve put a lot of thought into your shopping and selected some awesome items, you will need to keep your secret stash safe until Christmas and make sure the presentation is just as great as the gift.
Similar to the first two steps, this requires a lot of planning and effort. Here are some helpful tips:
- Keep Track of the Gifts
- Time it Right
- Wrap Beautifully
Step 1: Once you’ve spent your hard-earned money on your gifts, you want to keep track of them so nothing goes amiss when it comes Christmastime.
The last thing you want to experience on Christmas day is a missing present! There are many different strategies for keeping tabs on your gifts. The first and most obvious way is to keep a list of everything you’ve bought.
Make a list of all your recipients and list what items you bought for each person. Considering number the gifts or labeling them with names so when they’re wrapped, you know where each gift belongs.
Next, you’ll want to create a designated area for your gifts. This could be a purchased tote or rubber bin, the closet, or the attic. You will want to make sure that your designated area isn’t at risk for ruin.
For example, keep away from areas that may attract mice or get lots of sunlight. Picking the wrong storage location could fade or ruin your products before they ever make it under the tree!
Step 2: You will also want to make sure you don’t buy and store gifts that are time-sensitive or go out of date before Christmas. Tech items are notorious for upgrading to a new version right before the holidays.
You’ll also want to be cautious of the return and exchange policies for each of your items. Keep a folder of all of your receipts and make sure your friends and family have plenty of time to return or exchange their gifts after Christmas.
You will want to make sure you store and label your gift receipts so you can quickly and easily match them to the gifts.
Step 3: Lastly, you will want your gift wrapping to look just as incredible as the gift inside.
Pretty presentation is one of the best parts of the gift-giving routine, but if you’re not a professional gift wrapper or a ribbon hoarder, you might not have all the pretty odds and ends lying around the house.
There are plenty of unique wrapping ideas and tricks you can incorporate using simple and everyday household items. Here are a few favorites:
- Duct Tape Bow: Create a pretty bow using duct tape and leftover kraft paper. Simple apply the duct tape to the paper, and cut along the sides. Then transform into a pretty bow
- Curly Ribbon: If you already have ribbon, give your package a little more embellishment by scraping your scissors along the ribbed side of the ribbon. You will be pleasantly surprised when your straight ribbon turns into a bouncy bundle of curls
- Use Nature: Find leaves, berries, or small pinecones from outside and attach it to your packaging
- Mix Prints: It goes against natural instinct, but mixing the print of your paper and the print on your ribbon is very eye-catching and a great way to embellish a gift
- Use a Doily: Doilies are dainty and the perfect embellishment for a pretty package. They are cheap and you can find them at any craft or dollar store
- Create a Gift Tag: Gift tags add spice to any package. Pick up a set of cheap ornaments at dollar tree or cut pretty paper in funky Christmas-themed shapes and label with a bold marker
These are just a few of the many great gift-wrapping options. Choose wrapping that reflects your gift recipient’s style and interests. They’ll be thrilled with the effort to make their gift look just right.
Now that you’ve learned how to effectively plan and budget, purchase, and store and wrap the perfect Christmas gifts, I’ll leave you with a few trending gifts for each person on your list.
This should get you rolling in the right direction, but remember not to delay! Get started on your shopping process early so you have plenty of time to get everything on your list!
Here are the main things to remember:
- Set and track your budget
- Start shopping early and plan specific shopping dates
- Shop holiday sales and use cash when possible
- Think from the receiver’s perspective
- Add a personal or homemade element to each gift
- Personalize your wrapping
- Designated a specific storage space for all gifts and receipts
Some Ideas for Selecting the Perfect Christmas Gift
This is certainly not an extensive list, but here are some ideas and guidelines for selecting a great gift for each special person in your life:
If you’re married, you probably know your wife better than anyone, but I think it is safe to say that a gift specific to your love is great on any occasion. It’s also nice to treat them to some time off. Here are a few ideas:
- Ring with family birthstones
- Spa Package
- Love letter with redeemable chore coupons
If you have a girlfriend, give her something that will keep the sparks flying and give her confidence. Here are some ideas:
- New winter coat
For more ideas check here.
Moms do so much for us throughout the year. Make sure to spoil her this year with tokens of appreciation and love. Here are some ideas:
- Memory Scrapbook
- Charm bracelet with charms for each of her kiddos
- Cute Aprons for all four seasons
More ideas you will find here.
Your daughter’s age will largely determine the gift, but there are some things that can be universally gifted to a daughter. Here are some ideas:
- Date night coupon
- Promise ring
- Gift card inside a new wallet
Sisters are considered forever-friends. If you’re lucky enough to have a sister, give her something as a reminder of your unique bond. Try one of these items:
- Framed silly photo
- Mixed tape with your favorite songs
- A comfort candle
If you’re married, your husband probably does a lot for the family year-round. Consider giving him the gift of time to himself with one of these fun gifts:
- Gym membership
- Dollar Shave Club Membership
- Homemade Man Cave sign
If you have a boyfriend, give him something clever and unique. Your gift can involve some interactive pieces. Here are some ideas:
- Man Crate-visit mancrates.com
- Brew Kit
- Gift card to the movies completes with a basket of popcorn and theater treats
For those of us lucky to have a great dad, it’s important to give back all that he’s provided throughout the year. Here are some great ideas for spoiling dad this Christmas:
- Apple Watch
- Whiskey decanter set
- New Toolbox
Your son is probably a big blessing in your life. Again, age will determine the type of gift, but here are some popular items this season:
- Poker Set
- Netflix membership
If you’re lucky enough to have a brother…be a cool sibling and snag one of these popular gift items:
- Disc Golf Set
- Cool Headphones
- Tickets to a concert or ball game