Five Tips for Organized, Stress-Free Holiday Shopping – Frugal Novice

Five Tips for Organized, Stress-Free Holiday Shopping

Note: This is a partnered post with Shopular. All opinions are honest and are my own.

The holidays will be here before we know it. I’m still slightly in denial that it’s already almost mid-November (which reminds me, I really need to order our turkey!) but I know from prior years’ experience that I want to stay on top of my holiday gift shopping this year. I like to be able to relax and enjoy the holidays with my family, and don’t want to be stressed, rushing around last minute hunting for items (or cramming all that extra spending in a two-week window). Here are some tips that have helped me become more organized, and hopefully your holiday shopping will benefit from them too.


Holiday gift shopping is typically such a happy, relaxing, peaceful experience, right?

  1. Start now. Ok, if you’re reading this post on December 23, start a little over a month ago. But if you’re reading this in November, or even in the beginning of October, now is your time. Procrastination is not your friend when it comes to holiday shopping. Even if it feels a little ridiculous to be doing Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving, you’ll be patting yourself on the back as you see other people rushing around last minute.
  2. Make a spreadsheet. I love lists. Like, love lists. So making a spreadsheet with our holiday gift plan is right up my alley, and makes me happy. You might share my passion for list-making, but keeping track of everyone you need to shop for and how much you’ve budgeted is very helpful. Our spreadsheet includes a list of recipients, how much we are budgeting to spend on each person, and ideas for what we might want to get. You can start your spreadsheet as early as you want and use it as a place to jot down ideas as you hear your mother-in-law talk about that knife set she wants, for instance.
    I also like to add columns in our spreadsheet for what we have actually purchased and how much we spend. This helps us figure out if we’re going overboard, if we need to increase our budget, and makes sure we don’t accidentally forget anyone’s gifts.
  3. Actively seek out sales and discounts. It is SO easy to get in over your head with holiday spending, especially if you haven’t set aside money for it throughout the year (that’ll be on my to-do list for next year… we still kind of stink at that!). Stores this time of year offer all sorts of sales and discounts and now is the time to take advantage of them.
    I’ve discovered an app called Shopular that is my favorite shopping tool. It’s a free app I downloaded on my iPhone, and it puts discounts right at my fingertips. I can select my favorite stores that I want to receive info on, and I can even set it up to receive sales notifications when I’m near a store. The other day I was by Kohl’s and Shopular sent me a notification about a sale ending soon – I wouldn’t have known about it otherwise!
    Shopular also lets you easily browse weekly circulars on your phone. Each Sunday approaching the holidays I like to look through and see if there are any sales on gift items we’re looking for. We don’t take the newspaper anymore, so it’s an easy way to quickly see what discounts are out there and take advantage of the ones that fit our shopping list (see, told you that spreadsheet would be useful!). You can keep up with them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, too.
  4. Trim down your list. Again, spreadsheets for the win! Once you create your list of people to shop for, you can easily get a feel for if you are simply buying for too many people. It’s lovely to give, but it’s not always feasible to give to everyone. On a scale of 1-10, rate how crucial it is that you buy for each person. Those that rate 5 or lower might be ones to reconsider for this holiday season. Or, if you really feel like you can’t trim down your list, categorize them into groups based on how much you plan to spend, then see if you can come up with an economical gift to purchase in bulk (i.e. a group of iTunes gift cards at Sam’s or Costco).
    Even if you’re not trimming down the number of people you’re shopping for, you can trim down how much you’re spending. You can assemble cute gift baskets with popcorn, candy, and a RedBox gift card for just a few dollars – and I’m a big fan of homemade gifts, too. A spice cake packaged nicely and tied up with ribbon can make a delicious gift for your mailman, for instance, without breaking the bank.
  5. Buy this year for the next. We don’t do this for people that are in our family, or anyone we want to buy a specific gift. But if you find a great deal on a generic gift item, it can be really helpful to stock up now and have them on hand next year to have a head start when you enter in to holiday shopping season. You can also do post-Christmas shopping and find heavily discounted items that make great gift add-ons or stocking stuffers.

Happy shopping, friends! I hope you’re able to enjoy the spirit of giving with as little stress as possible, and that you have a wonderful holiday with your friends and family. It’ll be here before we know it!

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