It’s now the end of April and the next “holiday” isn’t until May long weekend, almost another month from now.Thank goodness. As anyone who has read any of our entries will tell you, we do most of our personal shopping on Saturday afternoons. It’s a terrible habit that we can’t seem to break and there’s nothing like shopping on the Saturday before Easter to make you never want to step foot in a grocery store again.
That being said shopping during the holidays can be fun, but it is important that you are smart about it. Otherwise you’ll blow your budget, spend way more time in the store than you want to and potentially end up causing some unnecessary hostility with other shoppers. Today we are going to talk about the 15 Do’s and Don’ts of holiday shopping.
15. Do shop early. This one is a no brainer. Who hasn’t found themselves sitting in a line at the cashier for over ten minutes at one point or another in their life when they found themselves thinking “why didn’t I do this sooner?” Thursday, Friday and Saturday are the three busiest shopping days of any week and this in amplified two to three times on long weekends. Do yourself a favor, even if you can’t load up a week in advance, get to the store early in the week to avoid the long lines and the likely hood that the items you’re looking for won’t be available when you need them. Can’t shop during the week? No issue. Some stores are open 24 hours for your convenience and by getting up a little early on Saturday morning you can save yourself a lot of headaches by getting to the store before the rush.Sleep through your alarm? Jump online and have someone deliver your groceries for you.
14. Don’t expect a quick trip. At this point this should go without saying but I’ll say it anyways. When you leave your house on Saturday morning at 11am and head to Superstore, don’t blame anyone but yourself that it’s going to take a while to get your groceries. Everyone knows that the holidays are times when large gatherings take place and everyone and their dog come out to the store to fill up last minute. Go to your happy place, put on a smile, and know that you’re going to be in the store 30%—40% longer than you’re accustomed to.
13. Do shop alone. Along with the other tips here, try to do the shopping alone. It is easier to get in to the zone and navigate the store with fewer interruptions. The more people you bring with you, the more eyes you have on the shelves, the more hands throwing items in the cart and mouths asking for items you didn’t plan on buying. It’s a known fact, that the longer you stay in a store the more money you will spend. Leave family at home and get the shopping done yourself.
12. Don’t shop when you’re hungry. This is probably in the top three of every shopping tips list of all time, and with good reason. When your stomach and brain are telling you how much you need something tasty, being in the middle of the grocery store is the last place you want to be…especially just before any holiday. This is when retailers and manufacturers alike pull out all the stops to try and persuade you to buy items you normally wouldn’t. Think Cadbury Cream Eggs, Green cookies on St. Patty’s Day, candy corn at Halloween, and cupcakes for any occassion. Not only are you more likely to put these items in the cart when you’re hungry, but the same goes for anything else that’s not on your grocery list. When you are hungry you are more likely to ignore the fact that you may be trying to stick to a budget this week and more likely to make those unnecessary purchases that you really don’t need to make.
11. Do try store brands. You are already expecting to spend more money during the holidays than on normal shopping trips. If you’re not hosting a family and friends event, you’re probably planning on attending one and will want to bring something to share. In either case, you’ll more than likely be shopping for more people than you are accustomed to. Store brands are often just as good as national brands but come at a fraction of the cost. Retailers are able to do this as they don’t need to spend the money on all the advertising manufacturers conduct to keep their product at the top of consumers’ minds. Usually substituting a store brand product in to a recipe will be nearly unnoticeable and will certainly help you in the savings department.
10. Don’t waste left overs. When cooking for large crowds, people often over estimate how much food they will need leading to a lot of left overs. Expect this during holiday occasions and plan your shopping accordingly. Minimize the additional food you plan to cook from scratch in the days following the holiday. Leave the meat in the freezer, buy fruit and vegetables that will last a while and get creative with left overs. Turkey is a great example. Use leftovers for soup, sandwiches, and salads. There are plenty of ways to enjoy excess food in the days following family gatherings.
9. Do stock up on sale items. Don’t get me wrong, I always say don’t just buy something when it goes on sale. At most major retailers, products like soft drinks will typically be on sale around 32 weeks of the year. That means that almost 2/3’s of your shopping trips will have soft drinks on sale and therefore you shouldn’t always feel the need to load up on pop when it goes on sale. Be smart about shopping sales items. Include a section on your shopping list for items you will need in the next two weeks and if you find those items at a good price buy the item then.
8. Don’t always shop at one store. This kind of relates back to my last point about shopping sale items. Getting used to shopping at different stores affords you the opportunity to get better sales, more frequently as well as a wider selection of products to choose from.
7. Do keep it colorful. If you haven’t guessed I am talking about the fruits and the vegetables. We tend to eat more at holiday events than we normally would. We also tend to add more salt in the hopes that others will enjoy our cooking because of the better taste. Adding flavor and color to your dishes is something everyone will thank you for and there is no better way to do that than by upping the variation of fruits and vegetables at meal time.
6. Don’t linger. Be decisive and move quickly through the store. Not only will you spend less money but you’ll also avoid annoying other patrons trying to do the same. How often do you find yourself in a turning point in the store, where two friends from church are chatting or someone is deciding over the $9.78 and $10.12 package of extra lean ground beef and traffic gets congested? Save the chit chat for church and make a quick decision on likely priced items. The stores will be busy enough during holidays and long weekends and don’t need your help making it worse.
5. Do try a new recipe. Holidays are the perfect time to try new recipes. You can refer to your grandmother’s personal recipe book and try your own take on a family favorite or look up top picks on Instagram or recipes.com. The point is, there are lots of options out there that you haven’t tried before and the holidays are as good an excuse as any to try something new. Try adding healthy or organic to your internet searches to keep it healthy as well. Get creative and have fun. Who knows, maybe you’ll find a new favorite that will stick with your family for generations.
4. Don’t be glued to your phone. I say this for more than one reason and I am serious when I bring up safety when talking about being on your phone. People are busy enough as it is and don’t need your help in getting frustrated in a packed grocery store or parking lot. Save the texting and emails for when you’re not driving and parking your car. For one, this is illegal. For two, the last thing you need is to take a quick glance at your phone while someone pulls out of the parking spot in front of you or heaven forbid someone walks out in front of you. Put your phone down and pay attention. When you’re in the store, be smart about when you’re checking your phone. If it’s necessary, slide in to an aisle with little traffic. Don’t do a google search for ‘best ways to cook a chicken’ when standing in front of the meat counter. Doing your part will help avoid causing traffic pile ups behind you, will reduce your time in store and reduce your stress levels and overall impact on your wallet.
3. Do bring a list. Similar to not shopping while you’re hungry, this has to be one of the top pieces of advice to give someone going grocery shopping. Stores make a big deal out of holidays because they are occasions that people can resonate with and have emotional attachments to. This make it easy for stores to sell you things you might not otherwise buy when they can strategically merchandise items together in themed displays to get you to put them in your cart. Using a list helps you to only spend money on items that you actually need. It also helps to make sure you don’t buy something you already have. There’s nothing worse than spending $8-$10 on something just to get home and realize you already had it. Minimize your unplanned spending and bring a grocery list with you.
2. Don’t always buy from the themed display. As I mentioned earlier, themed displays are designed to resonate with you on a personal level. While most items on display in the perimeter of a store are on sale, larger areas devoted to seasonal or holiday items tend to be at full price and use the emotional connections with customers to get them to purchase these items. When possible, avoid these large store displays unless you really do need the products they are selling.
1. Do get in the spirit. While most of this post was about avoiding busy periods and saving money, this last item is really about personal enjoyment. Don’t be too serious. Know before leaving the house that the stores are busier during holiday times and don’t lose sight of what the holidays stand for. Be kind, and greet others with a smile. Don’t rush or cut others off. Hold the door for a stranger and get in on the singing when holiday music is blasting through the store. Remember to enjoy yourself and in these moments don’t take life too seriously. You will be glad you did.
That’s it folks. I hope you enjoyed our post this week on the 15 Do’s and Don’ts of Holiday Shopping. Hopefully you enjoyed the read and check back next time for our latest blog posts.