We all know how Christmas gift shopping can spiral out of control. You make a list (if you’re organized), you hit the shops, you find something that would be the perfect gift for a family member, you make your first purchase and you feel like you can conquer the world.
You decide to step into your favorite department store that’s decked out with the prettiest Christmas displays. Christmas music is playing in the background and the whole place smells sweet and spicy, just like your mom’s house on Christmas Eve… you pass by the food section where they give you a sample of the best mince pie you’ve tasted in years, and you start feeling all warm and fuzzy… the shopping assistant asks you if you’d like to see the new home decor range? Um… yeah, sure. You’re not buying anything from it, but it won’t hurt to look.
Then you see the prettiest Christmas cushions arranged on a very plush sofa. They look so inviting and comfortable, but they’re too expensive and you don’t really need new cushions. Wait, maybe you should get one for your mother-in-law instead of her favorite fragrance that you were planning to buy for the same price… Yes, that’s a great idea! The thing is, they look so much better when assembled together like in the display… oh, they’re on sale! 3 for 2? That’s excellent value! Maybe you should add the soft cozy throw blanket that ties the whole look together? After all, you just saved the price of a cushion, so technically you’re buying that throw blanket for half its price…
Stop, right there!
You’re about to spend 4x what you were planning on spending in the first place, on something you’re not even sure the recipient will like!
Do you know that stores use Christmas displays, music, and fragrances to drive impulse purchases before Christmas? You’re probably not surprised. By making you feel nostalgic and content, you’re more prone to try to replicate that feeling -aka buying the stuff around you, hoping that they’ll make you feel the same way at home. We all know that’s not true.
We rounded up 5 tips for you to beat impulse buying and overspending on Christmas gifts this year.
1- Don’t go to the stores
Unless you’re buying something that you absolutely need to try in person (like smelling a new fragrance or scented candle), then don’t even go to the stores. Avoid the sense triggers by doing your shopping online. Websites and mobile apps (thankfully) don’t play Christmas carols in the background, and they definitely don’t smell like your favorite Christmas dessert!
2- Set a budget and compare prices
Another benefit you get from online shopping is that comparing prices and sticking to your budget become much easier. When you mindlessly fill your cart at the store, it’s easy to lose track of how much you’ll pay at the cashier; but if you shop online, you can always check your cart and remove or replace items, or even sleep on it before checkout.
3- Start early
Even though online stores can’t entice your senses the way physical stores can, they still start changing appearances and content around Christmas. Beat the mind game and do your online shopping early (and even score better deals if you finish all your shopping during Black Friday-Cyber Monday) so you’re not tempted to add that cute (but totally useless) ceramic figure advent calendar to your cart as a treat for yourself!
4- Don’t negotiate with yourself
We usually feel extra generous around the holidays, which is a good thing, but it also makes us overspend significantly. “If I go $30 over budget on this gift and $20 on that gift it won’t make a huge difference, right?” Problem is, it will. Those extra buffers do add up and eventually throw your whole budget out the window. Can’t find a gift for the exact amount you allotted for a certain person? Send them a gift card instead!
5- Stop guessing
Let’s admit it, just because someone is a family member doesn’t mean you know what they’d like for Christmas. And don’t even get us started on Secret Santa for co-workers! Who knows what Joe from accounting even likes?! Stop guessing -which always leads to overspending on expensive nonsense in an attempt to make up for the fact that the gift is totally random- and just gift those a gift card that they can redeem at a wide array of brands, so they end up getting something they actually like.
Do you have other tactics that you use for Christmas gift shopping? Tell us your secret in the comments below!