Monday, January 16, 2012

Why You Should Start Buying Your Christmas Presents Now

You may be thinking I made a mistake by scheduling this post for now. Shouldn't it have appeared in November, or at the very latest, early December?

While wrapping presents last month, Davonia commented that she started buying those presents in January. On a legal pad, she had written what she had bought for each person, how much she had paid, and what the regular price would have been. On average, she had saved 75%.

The result was she had been shopping at stores that were not crowded, where sales personnel could give her more attention, and where the stress level was lower. She saved money through buying on sale, and as a result, was able to give everyone better presents!

How to Do It
Ideas for gifts will present themselves at the most unexpected times. So will great buys on gifts. Whether you organize with paper or organize digitally, the keys are knowing what you have bought, what ideas for gift remain, and a place to house both in your system.

For Paper Planners
If you use a paper planner, I advocate having a page in the back for each of your goals or projects. In this section of your planner, you will have a page labeled "Christmas Gifts." Down the page, list the names of family and friends for whom you plan to buy. Leave several blank lines between names. Your list may spill over to the back of the page or even onto a second of third page.

As gift ideas occur to you, immediately flip to that page and jot them down under the correct name. When you actually purchase a gift, make a notation beside the gift.

You also need a trigger that occasionally forces you to look at that page and evaluate where you stand. Create a task which repeats each month and says something like, "Examine Christmas Gift List." This simple trigger will insure that once a month, you at least glance at the list people for whom you have ideas, who has nothing on their list, who has gifts bought, and which gifts you want to be make a concerted effort to secure during the next month.

In January, your trigger to examine the list should be enough to cause you to start a fresh list. Recopy your names. Perhaps some of the "ideas" from last year were not actually purchased and can be copied onto the new list as possibilities for the next Christmas. If you like to keep a record of the gifts you buy from year to year, take out the old page and add it to your reference files.

For Those Who Plan Digitally
The need for a trigger is the same as for those who plan with paper. Create a new task called, "Christmas gifts have been purchased." In the note section of the task, list the names of family and friends to whom you will give gifts. Below each name, list the gift ideas, one per line. As you actually purchase those gifts, add a notation beside the gift.

You will need a trigger to cause you to periodically look at that list. Make the task a monthly repeating task, and you insure that once a month you are looking at  it and evaluating it for what ideas need to be generated or what needs to be purchased.

When an idea comes to mind, you need to be able to find that task quickly and add your idea. Use your smartphone's search feature to find "Christmas gifts," and you are automatically looking at the task.

The Christmas rush is through...for now. But come next December, that rush will be back. The stores will be crowded. The days will be jam packed. You will wish you had started earlier! So, now is your chance, the chance to start earlier, the chance to make next Christmas less stressful and more merry.
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