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Holiday shopping can be challenging enough without having to buy gifts for those who you don't know well. That's why we spoke to Upper Canada Mall's Jennifer Kleinberg, who assures us that holiday shopping doesn't have to be stressful.
Christmas is right around the corner, and it's time to start making those shopping lists. When it comes to people who you might not necessarily know that well, you'd be surprised how easy it is to go overbudget simply because you're stuck for ideas.
Luckily, we spoke to shopping expert Jennifer Kleinberg, who offered her tips for keeping Christmas shopping affordable, easy and successful.
1. Begin with a list
Christmas shopping can be overwhelming, so make sure you're organized from the get-go.
"Make a list of everyone that you're going to be buying for," Kleinberg begins. "That way you're not feeling the pressure when you get closer to the holidays. Also include any information that you happen to know about them. So if you're buying for a niece or nephew, write down how old they are and what size they are, so that way you won't be stuck wandering the mall [debating] what to pick up."
As presents add up, your budget can go out the window. But that won't happen if you pre-emptively determine what you're going to spend, promises Kleinberg.
"It's important to decide what you're going to spend per person," she advises. "Set a budget and be realistic about it. Find out from your family and friends what budgets you're looking at."
"It's also a good idea to hold on to your receipts," she continues. "That way you can compare how much you spent to how much your budget was."
3. Don't rule out gift cards
Gift cards are a great gift idea -- especially if they're for somebody like a babysitter or another professional.
"Gift cards give [people like] teachers and babysitters a chance to buy something they really want," explains Kleinberg. "So if it's for a teacher, get a mug and put the gift card inside with some tea, and that way you're doing something other than just giving a gift card in a box."
4. Smaller gifts can be easier, cheaper and more sentimental
If you're stuck on sizes or just want to get creative, start picking up smaller items now -- especially if you'd like to save a few bucks.
"A lot of stores in Canada are ramping up for big sales on Black Friday," reveals Kleinberg. "But places like Timothy's or Tim Hortons are also great for people who are really hard to buy for. Small gifts like that are definitely an advantage."
"If you're looking for teens or tweens, stores like Justice and Forever 21 have accessories. Give a teen girl a basket filled with [things like] lip gloss and nail polishes if you don't know her size or taste," she suggests. "Accessories go with everything."
5. Make sure your gifts reflect your relationships
Kleinberg suggests evaluating how close you are with someone before getting set to gift give.
"It depends on the relationship you have with that person," she says. "It's like going to a restaurant. If you received really good service, you leave a bigger tip, and it's very much that flavour with gift giving."
Of course, exchanging presents is about more than just monetary value.
"People during the holidays want to know that they're appreciated -- that you've taken the time to give them something kind and thoughtful," adds Kleinberg. "And in the case of a teacher or babysitter, oftentimes gifts that come from the children are very special because it took time to make them."
6. Keep wine at the ready
A bottle of wine goes a long way over the holidays -- especially if you're using it in moments of surprise gift giving.
"People just want a genuine, ‘I was thinking of you' over the holidays," explains Kleinberg. "So even if you're going to dinner parties, keep some bottles of wine and gift bags at home. You'll always find a use for wine. Even if you don't end up giving it for Christmas, you can use it as part of a birthday gift later."