For some people – me being one of them – Christmas shopping is a pleasure and delight. For many others, however, it evokes anxiety, uncertainty and festive frustration.
"What do I get my mum?" Then, the real clincher, "what if she hates what I get her?" If you still haven't started your gift shopping there is a good chance that gift anxiety is rising with every passing day, am I right?
As a self-proclaimed present buying genius, I thought I would share some of my tips for gift buying without the stress and with better hopes of success.
This may sound overly obvious but there are a few pitfalls to online Christmas shopping that you will need to be aware of. At the moment there are huge delays in shipping so you want to make sure you get in early. Large NZ online aggregators such as The Market and Mighty Ape are great as they have a huge range and they clearly state whether the product is in stock in NZ or needs to shop from overseas. You also need to think about whether you get the gift delivered to you so that you can wrap it and hand it over with a flourish, or if you want to ship it directly to the intended recipient. The latter can save you time but you can't control when it arrives, how it is packaged, nor when they open it.
Limit your postage costs and the chance of your gift going missing en route by purchasing from stores closer to your intended gift target. Got family in Australia? Do some research and you will find oodles of options of local offerings that throw in free postage, including Amazon Australia. You can also take advantage of the chance to support smaller retailers who have been under a lot of strain overseas too.
Do some snooping
The hardest thing about buying gifts is working out what to buy. If you care about the person then you want to get it right. Before you overthink yourself into a stress ball do some Nancy Drew-ing. Take a look through their Instagram photos and Facebook posts over the past year. Note what brands of clothing or beauty products they mention. Or perhaps you spot that their umbrella broke recently. If you take a little time there is a good chance you will find some clue to point you in the right direction.
Think outside the box
The reason I love buying presents is that look on the person's face when they open the gift to find something wholly unexpected, but somehow perfect. That doesn't mean buying another book for the book lover or cycling shorts for the Mamil in your life. If someone is really into something there is a good chance they will buy what they need for themselves. Instead, focus on the things they won't splurge on and fill the gap. For example, my mum will never buy herself expensive luxury items or brands, so I do that for her. She would shudder at the idea of a $70 reed diffuser or a $150 candle, but I can get them for her and spoil her a little. It will never make up for everything she has ever done for me, but it lets her know how highly I value her.
Make it a hamper
Is there anyone who doesn't love a hamper? The only downside of pre-made hampers is that they can be a little on the pricey side. If you can couple people up and buy them a joint gift then a hamper is a great idea. Food and drink hampers work for almost everyone, but there are also beauty hampers full of luxurious indulgence for those you want to pamper. The hamper is the perfect gift as it comes wrapped, topped with a ribbon and you can usually specify which day you want it to arrive. Just search, choose, click, order and relax. The pictured hamper is from We Love Local NZ.
Play it practical
Some practical household staples make great gifts as you can never really have too many. Not often thought of as gift material, but a set of really plush towels or a new set of high thread count sheets will always be appreciated. Sheets and towels get used all the time and many of us wait till they are falling apart to get new ones. Other household staples that I don't think you can ever have too many of are funky cushions, throw rugs and tea towels.
Pet and parcel
One year a friend gave me a gift for my dog, instead of for myself and I was stunned. She knew, being an animal lover herself, that I would relish something for my four-legged bestie so much more than something for myself. If you have a friend or family member who is especially hard to buy for them stop by your local pet store and get them something ridiculously cute, useful, or both, for their pet. You are guaranteed to surprise them and, if they are as insane about their pets as I am, it will be a hit.
Give time, not money
For friends or family that have young children consider gifting them a night of babysitting. Make It a full night where you stay over with the kids and they can get a good night's rest at a fancy hotel or Airbnb or, if you have a childproof home, take them to yours and then return them after lunch the next day. Make your gift sincere, don't just write it on a card or mention it, instead mock up a cute little voucher that you either print or email through to them. Encourage them to lock in a date so they know you are sincere. That night off is worth 1000 Dyson vacuum cleaners to a tired, stressed-out parent.
Limit who you buy for
No one wants to be caught out when someone unexpectedly buys us a gift and we have nothing to give in return, but the need to give to everyone just in case just starts expectations year-on-year that can be hard to break. So, instead of buying a scented candle for your uncle's sister-in-law's cousin, instead approach your uncle and suggest that instead of buying gifts for all and sundry, you would rather each person nominate their favourite charity and you donate the money to would spend to a worthy cause. That leaves you with at least one less gift to shop for, wrap and carry. Merry Christmas.