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8 Tips for a Zen Christmas Shopping


Hey there Zen Organizers,

Christmas is already in three weeks, OMG!

I don’t know about you, but buying presents is the part of the holiday season I find the most stressful. There are the stores full of stressed people, the virtually unlimited choice of present ideas, the economic pressure on our budget, the pressure we put on ourselves to find THE perfect present, etc. For me, but all of this kind of takes away the magic of giving gifts to my loved ones…

But fear not: with a few tricks, it is possible to reduce the stress induced by the Christmas-present-buying craze!

1. Keep a list of present ideas throughout the year

Ok, so for this first tip, we might be a little bit too late… or early – for next year! ;) Well, it’s never too early to get organized, so you can start planning right away for next year (or for the upcoming birthdays)!

Joking aside, keeping a list of present ideas for your family and friends throughout the year is an excellent way to reduce your stress level during the holidays. You know, it's pretty stressful to realize you have absolutely no idea what to offer to your sister’s husband or your 12-year-old nephew two weeks before Christmas.

You simply have to pay attention to the desires your loved ones express throughout the year and write them all down in one place. You can keep a dedicated note on your phone, you can carry a list in your planner, or you can make a spread in your Bullet Journal.

It might seem complicated, said this way, but it really isn’t. How many times can you hear your friends and family members say things like “I really need to get a ______,” or “It would be nice to have ______,” or “It would be nice to do/go _____.” Whenever they say such things, write them down! Those are all great gift ideas they would appreciate getting since they told you so themselves.

Of course, check first if they didn’t get said object(s) in the meantime, especially if they talked about it a while back!

Thanks to this tip, I rarely wonder what to get my friends and family, which makes my Christmas-present shopping much smoother and less stressful!

2. Ask for a wishlist

I don’t know why, but many people find it sad or boring to ask for a wishlist because it takes away the surprise.

I guess this depends a lot on the points of view. Personally, I prefer to give – and receive – gifts that are truly desired, and that will be useful. Many resources go into producing objects, so I don’t want my presents to end up unused in the junk drawer…

If you feel like asking for a list takes away the surprise element, you can ask for many gift ideas, so the person doesn’t know which one you’ll offer her/him.

Anyway, knowing what the person would like to get reduces the stress of having to find the right gift idea. You’re likely to be less stressed during your Christmas shopping this way!

3. Buy non-material presents

Another great way to decrease the stress induced by Christmas shopping is to give experiences instead of material presents.

You can usually buy these experiences online, so you don’t have to face the Christmas craze in the stores and shopping malls. Experiences are also usually more environmentally-friendly than material gifts!

Here are some ideas for non-material gifts:

Fun gift ideas

  • an entrance to an amusement park

  • a trip somewhere (you can pay just a part of it, like transportation)

  • an extreme experience like bungee-jumping, parachuting, hand-gliding, etc.

  • an escape room entrance

Sporty gift ideas:

  • sports lessons or classes (ski, yoga, cross-fit, etc.)

  • gym membership

  • a hike and a night at a mountain hut

  • a premium subscription to a fitness tracking app (ex. Strava)

  • a subscription to a satellite phone/beacon (ex. Garmin, Spot)

Self-care gift ideas

  • a spa entry (my personal favorite!)

  • a massage

  • a mani-pedi

  • a dietitian consultation

Technological gift ideas

  • a software (Adobe Suite, Microsoft Office, Grammarly)

  • an app subscription (Spotify, Netflix, Skillshare, Disney+, Scribd, etc.)

Cultural gift ideas:

  • a concert ticket

  • a museum entrance or membership

  • a class to learn something (to learn a language, to play an instrument, to paint, etc.)

  • an entrance to a local landmark

Epicurean gift ideas:

  • wine tasting, beer tasting, chocolate tasting, etc.

  • dinner at a renowned restaurant

  • a cooking class

  • sommelier classes

4. Get crafty, make something!

Many people feel like gifts have to be bought with money to be of value. But I disagree. I think that if someone makes something for you, it’s much more valuable. It means they deeply care because they took the time and energy to make you something.

Money comes and goes. But time doesn’t. So if someone spent the time to make you something, it means they really care.

Plus, on a personal level, it’s so satisfying to make something yourself! You don’t even have to be a great artist or craftsperson because what really matters is the intent. And with the Internet, anyone can learn to make almost anything quite easily!

Here are some DIY gift ideas:

  • candles

  • cookies

  • spice mix

  • salted caramel

  • heat packs

  • potpourri

  • tote bags

  • bees wraps

  • soaps

  • photo album

  • Christmas ornaments

Pinterest is a great place to find inspiration!

5. Give money or gift cards

Here’s another type of gift that’s often considered boring: giving money. Plain simple money. Or gift cards.

I don’t see the problem with this kind of gift either. If you don’t know what to give someone, then don’t waste the planet’s precious resources to buy something useless just for the sake of giving something.

With money or a gift card, the person will be able to buy what he/she really needs and wants. And he/she is probably going to be much happier with that than with a useless object.

Of course, if you give a gift card, make sure it’s from a store the person likes!

6. Do a group present

I really like to do group presents, especially if I know the person needs/wants something a bit pricey. I often do that with my family and friends, and it’s great because you can buy something expensive which the person might not be able to afford on her/his own – or for you to buy it on your own!

For example, if you are a group of 10 people pitching in to buy the 200€ fitness watch your friend wants, it’ll cost each person 20€. Unfortunately, you can’t buy much for 20€ nowadays. So if each of these 10 people had bought a gift individually, they probably wouldn’t have been able to buy something useful or really desired by their friend.

Plus, doing a group present means more minds that can come up with a gift idea, and fewer gift ideas to think about!

7. Shop Online

Another way to reduce the stress of Christmas shopping is to buy online. This has many advantages: you can easily monitor and compare prices, there is an almost infinite variety, you can do it comfortably from your house, and you can avoid crowds.

However, if you decide to shop online, I’d suggest you try to encourage small online businesses instead of big online shopping stores as much as possible.

8. Choose your shopping time(s) wisely

If you do decide to buy a material gift, you should consider the following tips. They'll help you avoid the stressful atmosphere of stores and shopping malls during the holiday season.

Try to avoid shopping during peak hours like Friday night or during the weekend as much as possible. If your job allows it, try to go in the afternoon on weekdays. And obviously, avoid as much as possible to go in the few days before Christmas.

But the truly best tip to avoid the Christmas craze is to start your Christmas shopping long before the beginning of the holiday season!

If you do keep a gift idea list throughout the year, you can get a head start with your Christmas shopping months in advance.

So I’d suggest you keep this article and the free resources handy for next year's Christmas gift shopping!

I hope these tips will help you spend a less stressful Christmas! Please let me know what are your best tips to have a zen Christmas shopping experience in the comments, on Instagram, or on Facebook.

I wish you a zenly organized Christmas shopping,


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