How to Get through The Holiday Hullabaloo Without Becoming a Worn-Out, Cash-Stricken Grinch

How to Get through The Holiday Hullabaloo Without Becoming a Worn-Out, Cash-Stricken Grinch

Black Friday

It’s amazing how the heartfelt happiness and gracious gratitude of Thanksgiving can so quickly be replaced by the grabby greediness of shopping for Christmas, Hanukah and all the other gift exchanges. So how do you survive all the midnight-madness and door-buster sales without busting your budget or bursting your desire to give any gifts at all? Simple. Just sit back and check out our list of helpful holiday shopping hints for seniors that have been personally endorsed by a few of Santa’s elves.

Beating the Black Friday Blues

Black Friday (November 24) can humble even the hardiest of shoppers, let alone seniors. Crowded parking lots, overly aggressive shoppers and long lines can get tiring very quickly. But with a little planning, patience and perseverance, the unbeatable sales can be worth the effort. The key, of course, is having a good shopping list so you know exactly what everyone wants and can easily find what you’re looking for. Without the list, forget it. Black Friday is not the day for browsing and gathering ideas. It’s for serious buyers only.

Here are a few more tips to avoid chaos on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and beyond:

Set your budget and stick to it – The more children, grandchildren and other loved ones on your list, the more you need to know your limitations for spending and the time you have to shop. Don’t worry if you can’t buy as much as you’d like. Everyone will understand.

Do your homework – Use that shopping list and sites like to look up stores with the best sales and do price comparisons on big ticket items in advance. Know your stores and find out which one have the gifts on your list on sale. Don’t let the big red signs overstimulate you. Stay focused on the task at hand and visit as few stores as possible. Also, carefully consider whether it’s worth it to get in the car and fight traffic just to save a few bucks at a different store when the store you’re at has exactly what you need.

Clip coupons and bring sale flyers – Stores with coupon discounts often require the coupon in hand for extra savings. Having store flyers in hand can help clear up any price discrepancy. Both could come in handy for a “rain check” if the item you’re looking for is out of stock.

Be organized like Santa – With numerous children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews to shop for, it’s easy to forget someone. Keep track of what everyone wants and the prices so you stay within budget. Try to have a backup gift idea in case what you’re looking for is too expensive or not available. And obviously, if you have to shop for more than five or six people, don’t try to do it all in one trip. When your hands are full, it’s probably time to call it a wrap. Speaking of wrap, take advantage of free gift wrapping when it’s available. It’s one less thing for you to worry about later on and the wrapping is just going to get ripped up and tossed aside anyway.

Shop early in the day – Most seniors wake up early, which gives you an advantage over the night owls. Early morning is when the best sales are and when you have the most energy. But don’t think you’re going to beat the crowds by shopping at 6:00 am or earlier. Later in the day, shelves are typically empty or disorganized, making it harder to find what you’re after.

Have a game plan – Start by figuring out how many stores you want to visit and the easiest routes for avoiding traffic. Then be prepared to make adjustments as necessary. Wear comfortable clothing that hopefully won’t leave you too cold waiting outside a store or too warm inside. Bring a snack and plenty of water to keep you full and hydrated. It’s like the Snickers commercial says, “You’re not you when you’re hungry (and thirsty)”.

Grab a shopping buddy – As challenging as it may be, shopping on Black Friday and throughout December can actually be fun if you’re with the right bargain-hunting friend or family member. Not only will you keep each other company and provide moral support, you can tag team and hold places in line for each other while the other one shops. Carpooling together offers another big advantage. In fact, if several friends from your community want to go to the same mall, it’s great to all ride together. But when it’s time to grab some bargains, having more than two people team up could easily slow you down.

Save the receipts – This is a no-brainer for all holiday purchases, especially if you have to settle for something that isn’t the exact size, color or style that was asked for. With several more weeks until Hanukah and Christmas, it’s not uncommon for someone to change their mind and want something else after you purchase it. And unless you happen to be linked in to an up-to-the minute online family shopping data base, it’s quite possible another family member could end up buying the exact same gift. On top of that, you might even find a better deal advertised on the same item closer to the big day.

Hey, it’s 2017. Let’s shop online.

Black Friday isn’t the only time you can get great bargains during the holidays. Deals and discounts on Cyber Monday (November 27) can be equally good, if not better. Best of all, you can skip the crowds and lines, and even get shipping for free if you play your cards right. If you don’t consider yourself computer-savvy, have someone show you how easy it is to search and purchase on and ebay. Sites like these and other major department stores like Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart and REI all have excellent websites where you can find helpful product reviews and trust that your credit card info will be safe.

When in doubt, gift card!

If you’ve read this far, congratulations! You’ve earned the best piece of elfing advice there is. Gift cards and certificates are often the most desired and appreciated gifts you can give, and certainly the easiest to purchase. Most grocery stores have large displays of gift cards in varying amounts for all kinds of merchants, restaurants, attractions and services.
Some stores, like Costco, allow you to buy multiple gift cards at a discount. And at this giving time of year, many merchants and restaurants may offer an extra gift card for free, so you can reward yourself. Finally, it goes without saying that giving gift cards helps you stay within budget, are never the wrong size or color, and never need wrapping or exchanging.

So if you’re not comfortable competing with crowds and traffic to do your shopping, there’s no shame in buying gift cards. After all, it’s the thought that counts. And the thought of being safe and relaxed throughout the holiday season is what’s most important of all.

We hope you’ve found these shopping hints to be helpful. If you have a few of your own, we’d love to hear them. Until next time, Happy Thanksgiving and even happier elfing!

*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living

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