Christmas shopping is usually either the high point of a person's year or the bane of his existence. Comedian Tom Lehrer, too, expresses some dissatisfaction with the exercise when he sings, "Hark! The Herald-Tribune sings, advertising wondrous things... Angels we have heard on high, tell us to go out and buy..." However, Christmas shopping is generally held to be a necessary act and, with some organization, can be enjoyable.
One problem with Christmas shopping is that often, people go out without a list or any ideas of what they will buy, and for whom. Making a list of those to buy for and jotting down thoughts on what they might like is a good way to prepare for Christmas shopping. It helps speed up the process and assists the shopper in staying focused.
Another way to prepare for Christmas shopping is to set a budget. This may be the most important step of all. One contributing factor of post-holiday depression is, no doubt, the arrival of the high credit card bills in January. People realize how much they overspent when it stares at them from the statement. A budget is essential to help a shopper not to overspend and ruin the next several months after the holidays.
Some people do their Christmas shopping at the malls, and others would rather go online. Mall shoppers should make certain they have comfortable shoes and should go to the mall when they are reasonably rested. If the stores are packed with shoppers, having had a good night's sleep will go a long way towards keeping a shopper cheerful and reasonable.
Moms should ideally get a babysitter. Shopping, Christmas or otherwise, is much easier when the children are at home. The shopper should have her list and decide which credit cards she will use, and take only those with her. If she has decided not to use credit cards, she should leave them at home to avoid temptation.
Shoppers should also drive vehicles that either have enclosed trunks or hidden storage space for packages. Every year, there are reports of people who had every single Christmas package stolen because they left the presents on the back seat, where they were easily visible. Their windows were broken and the packages were gone when they returned. Thieves rarely steal what they can't see, so a shopper should always stow purchases where they are not visible, even if someone peers into the car's window.
Online Christmas shopping has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. The attraction of not fighting the mall crowds is irresistible for some people. However, keeping to the budget still stays in effect, and shoppers should make sure they order their merchandise early enough to get it delivered well before the big day. They should also make sure their computers have 128-bit encryption and secure socket layer (SSL) technology, which will help keep their account numbers secure.
Some people travel out of town, to the nearest large city, perhaps, to do their Christmas shopping. These shoppers should also take their lists and only essential credit cards. They should also plan to spend at least one night in the city, so they can rest from traveling and shopping. Shoppers taking this route should prepare by getting hotel reservations early and factoring in the cost of travel, food and lodging into the shopping budget. Those traveling by car should get their vehicle checked out, as you would for any road trip.
When a Christmas shopper pledges to stay on budget and organizes a list, he makes his life immediately easier. Christmas shopping can be enjoyable when the shopper makes an effort to be sensible about his purchases and does not push himself too hard in order to perpetuate some idealized tradition.