While Black Friday is not my jam, I totally get that is a tempting way to kick off a season of holiday shopping. I’ve already started my holiday shopping list, and I’m on the search for the perfect gifts for my friends and family. The lure of a good sale means it might start sooner rather than later. Even if you haven’t thought much about holiday giving yet, I’m going to guess that Black Friday and its friends (Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday) are on your radar. (Wait, is there something on Sunday or is it truly a day of rest?)
So before we start whipping out cash, I thought I’d come up with a little (intentional) holiday shopping guide to help you stay focused and mindful when shopping this season. And not so coincidentally, I think it will help you buy the best gifts yet!
Here’s how to do it:
1. Make a list. Yeah, yeah, I know this sounds boring, but making a list ahead of time, especially when you’re shopping for gifts for others, is a great idea. I LOVE gift giving and I find my list making process is actually more of a brainstorming session. I typically take a few minutes per person on my list to think about what might bring a smile to him or her. Sometimes this is buying something new, but often giving them something of my own, my time or an experience emerges as the best gift. The thinking about what would bring them joy makes the process so much more fun AND it helps keep me focused if and when I do shop.
Quick tips: I actually make my list in a Google doc! This makes it easy if I do spontaneous shopping since I can access the doc on my phone and remember who and what I’m shopping for. And most recently, I’ve started a “secret” board on Pinterest where I save gift ideas for specific people year-round. That way, I already have a load of ideas by the time I need a gift.
2. You have to love it! This is my year-round rule taught to me at a formative age by my Aunt Lynn. Just because something is on sale is not a reason to “love” it. Take a step back or walk away for a moment to really envision whether this is the right thing (the thing you’ll keep and care for as long as possible) for you or a loved one and not just more stuff.
3. Shop small. Buying from a local craft fair, a small business, an Etsy shop, or even a used bookstore is an opportunity to have a conversation with the person most connected to what you’re buying. When you get a chance to ask questions and hear the story of what you’re purchasing, you’re able to share that story with the gift recipient. And I think we all know that the things that have a memorable story usually end up as our most prized treasures.
4. No more stuff. Just to reiterate this because I’ve already touched on it, but how can we steer clear of just more things that pile up in our homes? And it’s actually related to that Gifting 101 question: is this something I personally like or is this something they will truly use and enjoy? Keep the other person in mind and give them something they’ll really use, rather than just something you like. Don’t know what they love? Don’t guess! Gift certificates are awesome to avoid the stuff trap, and a great bottle of locally brewed hard cider or some homemade Christmas cookies can be even better.
5. Enjoy shopping. Yes, you read that right! If you decide to shop, I want you to have fun! Shopping for others can be such a joyful experience. Don’t let the holiday shopping madness get you down. Take things at your own pace, make a day of it, stop for a cup of hot chocolate and give yourself time to be thoughtful about gifts. The more thoughtfulness and love that goes into what you buy (whether that gift is the perfect responsibly made thing or whatever), the more likely it is that your recipient will love it as much as you do. And I think you could argue that something that is well-loved, used and kept for the long haul is better at this point than an artisan-made thingamabob that is never touched.
What are your holiday shopping tips? Share them here! And if you’re the enlightened Buddha thinking you are so beyond shopping, I highly recommend checking out The Center for the New American Dream’s “Simplify the Holidays” campaign. I’m super digging their calendar with daily suggestions on celebrating the holidays without the stuff.