The holiday season encompasses several weeks of frenetic activity, as men and women look to juggle abnormally busy social schedules with holiday shopping. While you might not be able to add hours to the day, there are certain measures anyone can take to make the hustle and bustle of the holiday season more efficient.
Shopping swallows up a significant amount of time come the holiday season. According to the latest Consumer Reports Holiday Shopping Poll, the average person will spend 15 hours shopping for presents. Women tend to spend twice as long as men in stores and online, with women logging 20 hours of holiday shopping compared to the 10 hours the average male spends shopping for holiday gifts. Making the most of holiday shopping trips can free up moments and reduce overall stress during the holidays.
Condense your gift list
How much time you spend on holiday shopping depends largely on the number of people on your gift list. Shortening that list can save time and money. This may be the year for adults to collectively decide to forego exchanging gifts in lieu of devoting more funds toward gifts for youngsters. Distant friends may no longer need to feel obligated to buy presents for one another. Opting to do a "Secret Santa" or another grab-bag style gift exchange can reduce the number of gifts you need to buy, saving time along the way.
Keep a spreadsheet of your shopping list stored on your computer or smartphone so it can be easily modified year-to-year.
Create a shopping strategy
Millions of shoppers flock to stores on Black Friday to take advantage of doorbuster deals, and some even get all of their holiday shopping finished on this one afternoon. Others prefer to divide and conquer over a few weeks. Decide how you would like to economize your shopping so you won't be traveling from store to store wasting precious time.
Organize your shopping list into certain categories. Then match up those categories according to the stores that cater to these items. For example, if your list mentions bedding for a new college student's dorm room, curtains for an aunt and a set of beach towels for a friend who will be doing some post-holiday travel, group these purchases together and head to a bed-and-bath store. Such a plan in place can greatly cut down on your time spent shopping.
Consumer Reports says shoppers expect to wait in store check-out lines for an average of 3.5 to 4 hours this holiday season. Avoiding such situations can save you a significant amount of time, so shop during off-peak hours when you won't be elbow-to-elbow with fellow shoppers.
Take advantage of stores' extended hours and shop later in the evening, when parents and their children will likely be preparing for bed and not waiting in line at the mall. Some retailers entice shoppers with early bird specials and open their doors very early, so shoppers looking to save time can make an effort to be the first person at the door when the store opens. If you must shop during a lunch hour, shop online where crowds are never a concern.
Split up the shopping
Spouses, family members and even friends can pool their shopping time and help others by tackling some of their purchases. Dividing the work shortens the time spent in stores, and a third party may have a keen eye to a deal or a unique gift when he or she is emotionally removed from the purchase.
The average person finds time is of the essence come the holiday season. Prioritizing and economizing shopping is one way to make the season less hectic.