Scrooge only had three Christmas spirits to deal with, but as anyone who has ever been Christmas shopping knows, we’re often plagued by numerous ghosts of Christmas’s past. This year we’re hoping to bring a halt to the haunting. By naming and shaming the ghosts of Christmas shopping that lurk in the shadows and threaten to derail our Christmas gift buying efforts, our aim is to banish them well and truly to the history books.
This is the ghost that can never decide what to get friends and family. It shows its face when you’re trying to decide what to buy that person who already has everything.
Preparation is the best way to send this ghost packing. Throughout the year note down different gift ideas. They can be as outrageous or as boring as you like, but at least you’ll have a bank of ideas to select from when Christmas arrives.
If you’re struggling for ideas for this year, then take time out to do some brainstorming. Sit down with a pen and paper and write down as many gift ideas as you can. At this stage don’t worry about cost or suitability; it’s more about getting the Christmas gift ideas flowing. If you come up with expensive ideas, it’s sometimes possible to find similar Christmas gifts at a much lower cost.
For example, their favourite perfume might be out of your budget, but often the matching shower gel, is more affordable. To start you off, try to think about the person in question, their likes, dislikes, interests and even their working environment.
For instance, a sales rep might appreciate a sat nav or if you’re on a budget a favourite CD that they can play while driving.
Ghost of Pointless Christmas Presents
We’ve all been visited by this ghost at one time or another. Forking out for the latest gadget that seemed like a great buy at the time, only to find it buried in a drawer years later. For me it was a back massager that I bought my husband over 10 years ago, which still hasn’t been taken out of the box!
To destroy this ghost always think twice, before you buy. First, ask yourself if the gift has real purpose or wow factor? For instance, the Furby – the must-have toy from a decade ago – was entertaining for at least fifteen minutes, but had no real use other than as a furry ornament, collecting dust on an office shelf.
Yet on the other hand, electronic consoles including the Wii, Nintendo DS, Sony Playstation, have a certain amount of longevity as you can buy new games. They’re also great at keeping the kids (and even the husband) quiet for an hour or so, that is until the arguments about whose turn it is next, kick-off.
The second question you need to ask is – will they really appreciate this Christmas gift? Again it’s about going beyond the novelty factor and working out whether or not the gift will have real value for the recipient.
A couple of years ago, I received some wine charms – a set of different charms, each on their own ring that attaches to the stem of your wine glass to identify your drink. While at first glance these appear to be just another novelty, I’ve found them incredibly useful – it’s a great way to stop the Mother-in-law from always claiming the glass that’s still full!
Ghost of Nightmare Credit Card Bills
The most dreaded of all ghosts and one that we tend to deal with by shutting our eyes and saying ‘I can’t see you’. It’s a strategy that can work effectively, until the post arrives in January, that is!
Tackling this ghost head-on is our best advice. If you’re disciplined enough and can put a little bit of money away each week throughout the year, then you’ll find Christmas a much easier financial burden to bear. If however, like many people, you’ve just sorted your finances out from last Christmas, then you need to take another approach and stick to it!
Set a budget for each person you have to buy Christmas gifts for. Under no circumstances go over your budget – a couple of pounds here and there will soon add up if you’ve a big family.
If possible use cash instead of credit cards. When you can see the money you’re spending you’ll be less likely to overspend. If you insist on using credit cards, make sure you add up the cost as you go along. By being aware of how much you’re spending there won’t be any nasty surprises in the New Year.
Ghost of Last Minute Christmas Gifts
Procrastination is this ghost’s best friend and it usually brings the Ghost of Nightmare Credit Card Bills to join the party as well!
When you buy last minute Christmas gifts, there’s always the danger that you’ll panic and end up spending more than you intended. You can stop this ghost in its tracks by being organised. Make a list of all the people you need to buy Christmas gifts for, and add to the list Christmas gift ideas for each person.
You can then either pick up Christmas gifts as you go along or set one of two days aside to get all your Christmas shopping finished.
Ghost of Disappearing Time
The most sneaky of all the Christmas gift buying ghosts, this one will creep up on you when you’re not looking and suddenly you’ll realise that you’re days away from Christmas with a pile of presents still to buy!
Organisation and preparation, as explained in beating the Ghost of Last Minute Christmas Gifts and the Ghost of Indecision, both help to banish this ghost. However, there is another trick you can use – delegation. Don’t try to do everything yourself.
Give your husband, wife, partner, significant other, a list of Christmas gifts that they can buy on your behalf. If family members offer to help with Christmas dinner, let them. The old saying ‘many hands make light work’ certainly rings true at Christmas.
Just think, no more sore feet from trailing around the shops, no more waiting in queues to pay for your Christmas gifts and no more traffic jams as you try to return home. Many online stores offer guaranteed Christmas delivery dates, so you can be confident that your Christmas gifts will arrive in plenty of time for Christmas Day.
Follow our guidelines and the ghosts of Christmas’s past will stay well and truly hidden, allowing you to get into the spirit of Christmas.
Here’s wishing that your Christmas present and Christmas’s future are organised, relaxed and lots of fun.
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