Early Christmas shopping hacks for parents

It isn’t even Halloween yet, but of course I’m thinking ahead to Christmas. It’s what we do —“we” being the default parent responsible for procuring the Christmas gifts.

I won’t touch the decorations until the end of November, and it will be December before the darn Elf on the Shelf returns from the North Pole (a.k.a. the shoebox in my closet where I’ve stashed her so the kids don’t discover her in the bins of Christmas decorations).

But Christmas shopping? That can’t wait until we’re in the thick of the season. I hate crowds. I hate stores (other than stores that sell fabric, paint, craft supplies or wood). I hate feeling rushed and panicky and hot in an endless lineup of cranky shoppers.

Some years I’ve been completely finished my Christmas shopping by Halloween. This is not going to be one of those years, but I’ve definitely put a dent in my list.

If you’re also a weirdo introvert and you’re looking to get started your own holiday shopping, here are a few tips.

1. Figure out your format.

My gift list is a Word document I copy each year so I can fill in the blanks again. Once you can see who you’re shopping for and what you need to get, it’s easier to dive into the madness.

I’ve written before about our family’s Christmas gift rhyme that makes this easy: something you want, something you need, something to play with, something to read, and a new pair of jammies for Christmas Eve. {More on that here}

Read more about our Christmas gift system

2. Get that Santa-gift confirmation.

Kids love to change their minds, but once they have written to Santa, they know there’s NO going back — that’s what they’re getting from him. It’s a parental insurance policy that means I’m in the clear to actually buy the item.

Our kids get to ask Santa for one gift, and it can’t be too big or expensive because “Santa has so many children to deliver gifts to.” (This is a personal choice, but I feel strongly about big-ticket items coming from parents, not Santa Claus. If Santa is giving a PS4 to one kid and a pair of mittens to the child next door, how is that going to feel fair?)

They surprised me by writing their Santa letters VERY early this year, after school one random day. Our seven-year-old son asked for “a surprise Lego set” again. (Excellent! Mom’s choice.) Our five-year-old daughter asked for “LOL dolls,” which are the newest version of the blind-bag un-boxing nonsense she loves. (Sigh. Fine. #wasteofmoney)

3. Join a co-op group for deals.

I belong to a few co-ops on Facebook and they’re a great place to get gift ideas — and then actually order the gifts! You can tell which items are sure to be popular this year, and because a huge group is placing a single order, you get volume discounts and split the shipping/duty costs.

Before our daughter even wrote to Santa to ask for LOL Dolls, I’d ordered some through the co-op — figuring they’d be her “Something to play with” gift from us. Now they’ll have Santa’s name on ’em, and they’re safely tucked away for Christmas.

4. Make something!

The good thing about starting in October is that you have plenty of time to make a gift. We usually make at least one of the kids’ Christmas gifts. (One year my husband built a Lego table, and last year I built a little stage with curtains to go with our daughter’s new toy microphone.)

I’ve ordered little wooden pegs dolls that I plan on painting for the kids, and I already have the fabric to sew their traditional pairs of matching Christmas jammies. I’ll likely make a science kit for them to share, too, since they’re really into making science-y messes with baking soda and test tubes.

5. Look for local.

There are so many wonderful small businesses in Nova Scotia that you can support with your holiday shopping. Last year I gifted adults on my list with Pearl & Daisy bath bombs, Clay Cafe Truro gift certificates, My Home Apparel sweatshirts and socks, and Thrown Together Pottery coffee mugs.

It can be trickier for kids’ gifts since they usually want specific toy brands — although wouldn’t I love to see a hand-carved, hand-painted Shopkin?! Look for a locally-owned toy store instead of defaulting to the big-box stores. Scan through your list and see what you can buy at a farmers’ market, craft show, or a sweet little shop downtown.

With a little luck, we can all be done our Christmas shopping at some point in November — and have more time to relax at home re-watching classic holiday trilogies, like The Santa Clause(s) and Diehard(s).

Early Christmas shopping hacks for parents {Heather's Handmade Life}
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