After a relaxing couple of days after Thanksgiving, I finally set out to put together my Christmas shopping list. Not counting my four kids, I have 20 gifts to purchase. Eight of those gifts will be gift cards or cash, two will be tickets to an event, and that leaves 10 gifts to be purchased. After I finalized the list and determined my budget range for each gift, I set out to begin the hunt.
I also set three holiday shopping goals. The first is to complete my purchases as early as possible this year so that I will have more time to simply enjoy the season. Secondly, I do not want to fixate, obsess, or over analyze every single gift I need to buy. This just wastes my time and causes me unnecessary shopping stress. And lastly, I want to resist any compulsive shopping issues that may arise.
In order to meet my first goal, I decide that I will purchase as many gifts online as possible. This will be more convenient for me and therefore will allow me to complete the shopping sooner. But I need to be very careful as sometimes I can spend too much time online and that would be counterproductive. In order to avoid becoming over consumed about what I am purchasing, and also keep my shopping time in check, I will need to schedule and limit my time on the computer. I will also need to be especially mindful of myself if I begin to slip into the obsessive zone. As for dealing with shopping urges, I will use my “urge strikes” app to remind myself to carefully think about what I want to purchase and to implement pausing beforehand.
Before I continue about how my shopping has gone so far, I have to mention something. I did not shop on Black Friday OR Cyber Monday. I relaxed on Black Friday and on Cyber Monday I was still finalizing my shopping list! I began shopping after both those days were over. Guess what? When I finally went to shop all the sales were still there…I got 20%, 30% and in one instant even 50% off. Yup…I knew those sales wouldn’t disappear. Ok, so now back to the shopping.
As planned, I started my shopping online. I was able to buy five gifts this way. I must admit that I did feel myself starting to fixate a bit…second guessing myself…hemming and hawing over this item or that item, this color or that color. Having caught myself starting to overthink my choices, I stopped. I closed the computer and walked away and did not return to compete the shopping until hours later. At that point before I opened my laptop, I had made my decision and agreed to stick with it…which I did. I was happy to see that I did not get sidetracked this time around. I also did not stop to contemplate purchasing anything that I felt I “had” to get myself. Sure, I saw a few things I liked…a handbag, a wallet, another sweater, but I was able to quickly dismiss it from my mind saying “this is not the time…stick to your planned shopping task. I don’t need another bag, my wallet (although a few years old) will last another season, and I most definitely do not need another sweater! These conclusions came to me quickly and I never needed to use my urge strikes app!
Two days later I planned to shop for two more gifts at the mall. I wanted to buy clothing for my neighbor’s daughters and I felt it might be quicker to choose the items in person. I only had one hour to visit two different stores and I could not allow myself to get distracted since I needed to get back home in time to get my son off the bus. If I were to succeed then I had to remain focused and could not dilly dally. I accomplished purchasing both gifts in the hour and got to the bus stop with time to spare (okay maybe just 5 minutes, but still I was there)!!
In the past, this scenario would very likely have played out much differently. It may have gone something like this:
I would have set out to shop at two stores on opposite ends of the mall and purchase the gifts within an hour. BUT, then my attention would have veered off-track by a simple glimpse of something that I liked “for myself”. I would most likely have stopped to try it on…contemplate it…put it down…pick it up…walk away….turn around…. and well, you see where this is going. I would have bought myself something before I even got started with what I needed to purchase.
Then I would likely be rushing to get the planned gifts and would be waiting on line to pay when I’d realize that I’d never make it to the bus stop on time. Panic would begin to rise and I’d stress over what to do. I’d end up calling either my husband (who’s office isn’t too far) or a close friend and ask them if they could pick up my son for me. This would lead to more rushing and feelings of being a complete loser, since now I would not be there for my son, and also put other people out of their way... all because I had wasted time buying something I didn’t need.
In the future, I’d like to change up more of the gifts I am purchasing. How many sweaters, scarves, or throw blankets does a person really need? I'd like to see the amount of experience gifts I give increase instead. In the month leading up to Christmas, I’d love to be spending time with people on my shopping list, rather than rushing through crowded stores buying things for them (that they may not like and probably don’t need).
But for now I’m happy with how the shopping is going. I got the gifts I set out to buy and did not compulsively purchase anything else, and it did not negatively impact any other aspects of my life (such as not picking up my son when he was expecting me). This has led to an all around better mood which was reflected in the remainder of my week. In fact, my son had a half day of school and I took him to take a picture with Santa, and to see the animated Christmas displays at a local garden nursery. We had such a nice time together, and I was not racing around trying to squeeze it in so I could check off another box on my list of “things I had to rush and do”.
I only have two more gifts to purchase (once again excluding my kids) and it’s not even December 1st. These last two gifts are easy and will be fun to buy from my local toy store. I will be able to complete purchasing my 20 gifts within the next few days. Then I will enjoy playing holiday music as I take my time wrapping everything!
Now about those four kids of mine….to be continued.