Avoiding Holiday Shopping Dread: 7 Tips to Keep You Sane

Financial Advice


3 min. read

By: FCU Team

According to LendingTree, 61% of Americans report feeling dread leading up to the holiday season. With the average consumer spending $602.65 on holiday gifts ($850.38 for parents!), it’s no wonder why holiday dread is so high. Keep reading to learn seven tips that’ll keep your holiday shopping stress free.

It’s the Thought That Counts

Contrary to what Michael Scott from The Office might think, choosing an expensive gift won’t necessarily make someone think you love them any more than a less expensive option, especially if that gift is wrapped up in love and care (and wrapping paper). An extravagant gift might pack an exciting punch, but something your gift recipient can treasure forever packs an emotional one. You should consider your history with the person, any inside jokes you have or traditions that you can honor with a gift. While it varies with every person, you know your friends and family better than anyone else.

Budget Early and Often

Sometimes pricier gifts are just unavoidable. If you know you’ll be spending big during the holiday season, you should use it as an opportunity to budget for those gifts all year. Starting a “Gift Fund” that you can chip into throughout the year will leave you with a larger pool of money to work with. It just so happens FCU offers an account for this strategy! The Holiday Club account is perfect for making regular deposits throughout the year. Once November hits, the money will be transferred directly into your checking account for some sweet gift spending! Learn about our Holiday Club account and other savings options.

Organize a Family Secret Santa

If you have a big family (or large friend group!) and you’re looking to spice up the gift-giving experience, a Secret Santa party is a great way to have fun and save money. By setting and enforcing a spending limit, everyone is on an even playing field and saving some dollars. We just want to say, if you opt for nasty Christmas or white elephant – any family drama is out of our hands at that point!

Start a Gift Idea Journal and Keep Your Ears Open

While half of the dread of holiday shopping is the money, the other half is not knowing what in the world to get to the people closest to you. Let’s be honest, not all of us are gift giving superstars who know what to get for each member of our families. Starting a gift idea journal is an ideal solution. If you’re already budgeting throughout the year, keep a gift idea journal alongside it. Your journal might include ideas you think of yourself or things you hear the gift recipient say themselves! Did your sibling express a love for a certain artist or band? Write it down and any other ideas you might have, like branded t-shirts or even concert tickets!

Also, consider asking for help! Even if you think you know your friends and family super well, another perspective could open you up to gift ideas you could’ve never thought of. If push comes to shove and you’re a silver-tongued devil, you might just be able to get the person to reveal what they want without them knowing!

Track Prices, Watch Out for Sales

Looking to score gifts at the best prices online? If you’re an Amazon shopper, there are websites like CamelCamelCamel that are designed to track prices. You can see the current prices for items, their historical prices and can even create a free account to set up alerts for products that you have your eye on. If you start the year out with a gift idea journal and know the items you want to get, you’ve got time to spare. Knowing gift ideas in advance gives you an edge going into the holiday strategy, due to everyone’s favorite sales events: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Taking place just a few days apart, these events might be where you can find your gifts at lower prices. Just be sure to not give in to every sale you see! Have a plan, know what you’re buying already, and do just that.

Click here to earn about other price tracking websites and apps.

Consider Experiences

Physical gifts aren’t the only thing you can provide for someone. For example, is your significant other experiencing a lot of stress or back pain? A spa package might be just what they need to feel better! Concerts, vacations, camping, dance lessons etc. are all ways to connect with the people in your life beyond just physical gifts. The trade-off is that some of these might be more expensive than a traditional gift. Your budget and gift history will determine whether you’re able to do these, but you can just save those ideas for next year if money is tight or you need to budget for a longer period of time.

Remember to Have Fun

It might sometimes feel like holiday shopping is the end of the world. Just remember that as long as you have a gift you put some thought into, that’s all that matters…as long as you give something. We guarantee that whatever gift you give will not be worse than the immeasurable shame you’ll feel if you don’t give one! At the end of the day, the holidays are all about spending time with the people closest to you – the gifts are just a bonus!