Top Shop Tips

Consider today’s post a bit of a bonus – since we’re about to jump into holiday wish list making and shopping season, I thought I’d round up some of my TOP tips to help prep you for what can be a stressful season for some…although of course, CGG fans should have it a little easier than most. According to an article I read on the Huffington Post, the average Canadian shopping spends about 11 hours shopping for 9 people over the course of the holidays. A lot of that, of course, is window shopping and considering. Some people may be buying for double or half that number. Whatever your situation, it definitely takes time (and money) to hunt down that perfect gift. Whatever meaning you assign to the present side of the holiday season, chances are you’re still expected to come up with *something*. So today, I’m hoping to simplify your life and save you a few bucks as we dive headfirst into holiday shopping!

1-Naughty LIstTip #1: Make a List, Check it Twice
Make like Santa and start your holiday shopping season off by determining just who you’re going to buy for. Confer with your friends so you’re not caught unaware when they thrust a present under your nose, and check in with your siblings, parents and spouse to see what expectations are this year. Note any events that are already in your social calendar and highlight how many hostess gifts you’ll need to stockpile (plus a few extras for last-minute invites). Knowing who you’re shopping for at the outset can make it easier to keep your gift-giving senses on high alert so you can note perfect gift ideas when they pop up – on the CGG or otherwise.

2-Draw NamesTip #2: Simplify & Destress
As you get older, your shopping list can become really, really long. Suddenly you’re not just buying for your sister, but for her husband and their kids, and potentially experience the same thing on your spouse’s side. If things are just too cost-prohibitive and excessive, take a page from some of my extended family members: they put everyone’s name into a hat and each person draws one other person’s name. They’re then responsible for purchasing a gift (or gifts) that add up to a few hundred dollars in value – but you can set your own budgets as a family. It makes the shopping experience way less stressful, frees up some budget, and still allows you to focus your energies into friends or family members that fall outside of the group gift-giving exchange.

3-Loyalty CardsTip #3: Reward Your Loyalty
The sooner you do this tip, the better. Rifle through your wallet and pull out every last one of those loyalty / points program cards you’ve got and figure out if they can help you purchase some of your gifts to save a few extra bucks. Air Miles, Aeroplan and Shopper’s Drug Mart points can all be exchanged for gift cards and actual items – ditto for your credit card’s loyalty program. If you’ve got cards for grocery stores, retail stores, movie theatres, etc., check your point balances online and see if you can put them toward any tangible goods that would make great stocking stuffers or thank you presents. Note that most of these programs have a 4-6 week turnaround time, so if you want everything in time for Christmas you’ll want to start researching now.

4-Woman Online Shopping#4: Make a Hit List to Haunt
If you spy a particular item that’s just a little out of your price range or if you know of a store someone on your shopping list absolutely adores, add them to your ‘hit list’. What I mean by that is pick about 3 to 8 stores that you really want to haunt this holiday shopping season. Sign up for their email newsletters, follow them on social media, sign up for special alerts, install their online apps and make a point to visit the stores themselves at the start of the month. Most retailers are happy to extend some goodwill in the form of special, limited-time promotions in exchange for you bestowing their goods on one of your giftees – but you have to pay close attention or risk missing out on some fabulous deals. Not every store on the planet should be followed though, or you may fall into the trap of splurging at the sight of every single special offer. Pick some favourites of your own and who you’re shopping for to curb spending.

5-Your Wish List#5: Don’t Forget About You
I strongly urge you to make a visit to the mall (or browse online) over the next two or three weeks – before Black Friday anyway – to start crafting your own wish list. The reason? You’ll be more likely to get more items on your list if you forward it along to your friends and family sooner rather than later. Not only will they have the chance to pounce on gifts while they’re still in stock, they’ll also have the opportunity to haunt *your* favourite items and stores to score deals and perhaps even increase the value of your presents while spending less. I always make a point of taking my husband out to visit some of our favourite stores a week or so before Black Friday (particularly U.S.-based chains), and then scour the web on the big day to get his a few of wish list items at a fraction of the price.

Those are just a few of my ideas to help you simplify your shopping process this holiday season. If you’d like a bonus entry into last week’s Vapour Beauty giveaway, tell me in the comments below – what’s your #1 shopping tip? Would any of the ideas I’ve highlighted work for you?

16 Responses to “Top Shop Tips”
  1. Annie Demill says:

    Love all your tips especially Tip #3: Reward Your Loyalty! I save my PC mastercard points all year to use at Christmas time. I usually have about $500 to spend! My #1 tip would be to spread the shopping throughout the year and that way you can take advantage of sales or grab that perfect gift in March when you see it because often by December it’s nowhere to be found.

  2. Dreena says:

    My shopping tip would be to shop early in the season or online to save yourself some stress.
    I like all your ideas – in particular #4!

  3. Victoria Ess says:

    Mine would be to start early, and research online before heading out.

  4. cookie3 says:

    My number 1 shopping tip is this: When visiting friends & relatives pay attention . Sometimes people mention in passing ‘wouldn’t it be nice to have this or that” I have a little notebook in my purse & I record any tips or hints , colour schemes, sizes, and such in it. Then I refer too it when shopping. It doesn’t take much effort to notice that person A prefers tea to coffee, has a gluten or sugar free diet, loves to cook, or do photography or loves to travel , or is crazy about quilting or other crafts. Then I sit down with a catalogue or magazine & decide what I’d like to get for said person. When I’m ready to shop I know exactly what I’m looking for & which stores I need to go to.

  5. May says:

    My tip is to never buy regular price….it will eventually go on sale for a lot less!

  6. Betty S says:

    my tip is to never go without a list, and never pay full price if you can help it.

  7. Emilia says:

    My #1 tip is a list and jotting down ideas through out the year.

  8. Grace F says:

    Brittany all of your tips are wonderful and I love the tip about utilizing your points from loyalty programs, which can help reduce the financial burden of holiday shopping. Great idea!

    Also, I love cookie3’s post! This is something I usually do year round to include birthdays and other special events as well. Taking note of other people’s interests and likes really adds that personal and thoughful touch that people always appreciate.

  9. beewbedard says:

    always make a list and get a receipt so that the recipient can return if needed

  10. Alison K says:

    Vapour Beauty bonus entry: my #1 shopping tip would be to listen for clues throughout the year so you can catch the item(s) on sale. This kinda goes in conjunction with your #4 tip – Make a Hit List to Haunt & therefore the ideas highlighted would work for me.

  11. Diane says:

    Good tips here especially #4. My tip is to research before heading out.

  12. Julie G. says:

    I make sure to get a gift receipt in case it needs to get exchanged.

  13. Susan says:

    I usually try to pick up things I know the gift recipient would like throughout the year (unless perishable). That way, I’m not floored in the new year with crazy, huge bills!

  14. Donnas says:

    My tip is to definitely to make a list and keep all receipts together.

  15. stacey h says:

    check out deals – there are great sales for practically everything

  16. I already do a lot of the tips on your list. But I don’t always take the time to put together my wishlist, and when I’m asked what I want, have to hem and haw. My tip is to keep your eyes open throughout the year, and buy things when you see them. This saves having to do all of your shopping during the crowded Christmas mall frenzy.

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