Maybe you read this title and thought, what does that even mean? I hear you. But I’m also here to help you. Mindful shopping is something that I never even considered two years ago. When it came to birthdays and Christmas, all bets were off. I was literally spending whatever I wanted, because I justified it as love. Gift giving is definitely one of the ways I show love (in addition to major affection) so I always thought that the more gifts and the more money I spent, the more my love was realized.
So. Not. True.
Want to know what was true, though? My credit card bill. Painfully true. So expensive. While the gift giving felt incredibly good in the moment, days after when the occasion had passed, I was left feeling a bit panicked and frustrated that I spent that much money. The other tidbit to this? (truth serum); when things aren’t equal, it can have an effect on you. Maybe not right away (in my case), but eventually you will have that thought of, “I just spent $300 on this person and they spent $60”. Guess who’s fault that is? Definitely not theirs.
The good news? There is a way to stay true to your love language (i.e: gift giving) and not have that resentful feeling – because honestly, that just isn’t fair to the receiver. They’re not asking for it, you’re voluntarily giving them things. Lets stay specific to the holiday season since it’s fast approaching and we’re all gearing up for Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday (omg).
Tips for Staying Mindful During Your Holiday Shopping
-Do your homework
I don’t mean to stroke my own ego but this is one of my strong suits. One of my favorite reactions after I’ve given someone a gift is when they say, “wait, how did you know I needed/wanted this?!” That’s when I’m able to say, “I heard you. I made a mental note.” This is another reason to keep your recipient list on the smaller scale, if able. You’re going to have a lot more energy to put into the perfect gift for each person on your list when you’re not overwhelmed by quantity. The other piece to doing your homework is researching the products and ensuring they’re the right fit, the right company, and align with who you’re gifting to. This might mean avoiding fast fashion or trendy, disposable items. You could also look into charities to donate to on behalf of the recipient if you’re giving to “the person who seems to have everything” – or if you want to take a break from gifting material items. Organizations like Amazon Smile, Pencils of Promise and Bear Necessities (this is the organization that we had people donate to when my dad passed away in lieu of flowers)
-Make a list
I’m an avid list maker (Virgo!), so I almost never leave home without one. This keeps me on track and while I’ll still stray a little bit from time to time, for the most part it centers me and keeps me focused. You know the (true) saying of “never go to the grocery store hungry?” The same applies here for your holiday shopping. Never start your holiday shopping with out a clear vision. I created a FREE Mindful Holiday Shopping Guide for all of you that includes a spreadsheet (page 14!) that I use personally for gift giving and budgeting (it’s super simple to use!), and it keeps all of your ideas, gift outcomes and costs in one place.
-Rely on Gift Guides
If you’re someone that’s easily overwhelmed by holiday shopping or you truly don’t have the time, utilize gift guides. They’re all over the internet these days, and it’s even better when they’re categorized based on personality traits and interests. You can find mine here in this guide (starting on page 5), and also stay tuned next week where I’ll be posting a gift guide Monday (for her), Wednesday (for him) and Friday (for the littles).
Create a firm budget
First and foremost, this means practicing self control. Maybe you leave your credit cards at home (I do this all the time – using my debit card is way more concrete than a credit card), or only bring a certain amount of cash with you. (just be careful in case you have a car emergency or something and need a tow – you just never know!)
If you’re impulsive with money, maybe it’s better for you to open up a separate debit account (I have two!) and put a certain amount in that account for holiday shopping. This will force you to divide how much you’re spending on each person. Again, the Mindful Holiday Shopping Guide will help keep you on track since there’s a slot for you to enter in your desired budget per receiver, and the actual total that you ended up spending.
Let go of expectations
-Take the stress off of your plate
Its ironic that what’s meant be a cozy, special time of year centered around being with the ones you love and taking time for rest generally ends up being chaotic and all about making sure everything is “just so”. I encourage you (and challenge you!) to take any and all stress off of your plate. Get a massage or a facial in the midst of your planning and holiday shopping. If you love shopping for things in person but it’s taking a toll on you, compromise. Do half in person, half online. Most importantly, plan ahead and get your budget in line. Time crunches and finances are two of the main reasons people get stressed around the holidays. If you knew you could avoid it, wouldn’t you?
-Recognize the relationships
With each person you’ll be gifting to, it’s important to pay attention to the person at hand. For instance, my Grandma no longer values material possessions in the same way she used to years prior. These days, nothing makes her happier than hand drawn photos from her great-grand babies. Honor that instead of overlooking it and buying something just to buy something. This might force you to get a bit more creative, but that’s where the fun and true value of gift giving comes into play.
Like anything in life, it pays off to be adaptable and understand that not all may go as planned. If your gift doesn’t arrive in time, it’s not the end of the world. If it’s the end of the world, then there’s some serious perspective imbalance going on :) ‘
Or maybe you’ve got the perfect gift in mind, and you come to realize that it’s sold out or the price has gone through the roof and it’s above your budget. This is another reason why planning ahead is crucial. A) it makes it less likely that this will happen, and B) you’ll have a backup gift ready to go that’s just as meaningful. When you’re purchasing something for someone to bring them joy, there is absolutely no reason to get stressed. If you think about it, it’s kind of an oxymoron.
-Don’t buy with yourself in mind
Have you ever been on the receiving end of a gift and knew almost immediately that this was in fact, not for you, but for the person who gave it to you? I have! It’s not only awkward, but disappointing. I would much rather get a hand written note than something that required no real thought or consideration.
-Don’t buy just to buy
This applies to life in general, but don’t buy something just to buy something. Generally the only reason this happens is if A) you’re not all that interested in the gift giving, and if that’s the case – you probably shouldn’t be buying a gift for that person anyway. (remember the option to donate to a charity on their behalf? Maybe that’s a better option for you) Or B) you didn’t leave enough time and now you’re scrambling and feeling unprepared, A “sale” sign is now the indicator that you should buy it, regardless of what it is, or maybe something of a certain color speaks to you and that’s just good enough. Use your creativity, practice planning, and more than anything – utilize your ability to be mindful and intentional.
-Don’t get so wrapped up in the stress of shopping (pun not intended)
If you don’t like crowds, start your shopping early (though at this point Black Friday is two days away so…. next year!) The more obvious answer for this is to shop online (my personal preference) and to dedicate certain time blocks in your day to accomplish this. It’ll allow you to have more fun with the process rather than trying to multitask all of your other to-dos in addition to your holiday shopping.
-Be kind to yourself
Please, please be kind to yourself during this time of year. Don’t let your self care routine fall by the wayside simply because of the holidays. Continue getting those massages if that’s your jam, exercise frequently and eat well. But don’t forget to treat yourself, either. Holiday cookies are THE BEST and they deserved to be eaten. Give yourself some room to unwind and relax; to take in the joy of the season.
I promise that if you can implement these tools while doing your holiday shopping, your approach to what is generally seen as a craZed time of year will now take on a whole new life. I’m living proof that it’s possible. For me, it was a heavy dose of perspective when I lost my dad just one week before Christmas. Maybe for you it’s that you just lost your job so your finances are tight, or that your family isn’t getting along right now which alters your mind frame a bit. Whatever it is, honor it. Don’t apologize for it. Do what you have to do to have a calm and relaxing holiday. Again, that is truly what it’s all about. x