How to Avoid Christmas Impulse Buying

By Ranka Burzan
It’s that time of the year again when people are getting frustrated, tired and overwhelmed just thinking about which gifts they should give to their family and friends. Christmas can become a challenge when families are on a budget and expectations are high. There are ways to make the holidays meaningful, memorable and less stressful. Stores are full of decorations, glitter and gadgets. Everything is colourful and desirable. We are tempted to buy everything for our family and friends. Our society is consumer oriented and love seems to be measured by how much money we spend on gifts for others.
Another issue with shopping impulsively is that family members end up buying thoughtless gifts that nobody wants or needs. The perfect example of a thoughtless gift would be a basket of cheap lotions and potions for your 80-year-old grandma. The families of seniors need to realize that grandma needs somebody to clean her home, tend to her garden or wash her car. I urge all my clients to create memories with their families by having dinner together, going to a show, travelling or seeing a movie. In 10 years of business, our clients have donated hundreds of unwrapped and unused Christmas gifts some more than a few years old!
Being in the business of organizing and downsizing I have discovered that many people are addicted to impulsive shopping. I have also discovered that happiness is not in that perfect black dress, designer purse or new pair of sunglasses. Even though Christmas is the perfect time to showcase your home and buy gifts for loved ones, it doesn’t mean you should break the bank and put yourself in debt. It’s after Christmas that we have to be concerned with when the reality hits and the credit cards arrive with a new statement and high interest rate.
We are programmed to buy and buy some more. This year and the year after will be the same if we don’t change. Once the bad habit of impulsive shopping is formed, it’s very hard to change. We are already being challenged with cluttered and unhealthy homes. Buying a bigger home or renting a public storage is not going to solve the epidemic of impulsive shopping.
Below are some tips that might help you to curb your impulsive buying.
Create a Shopping List
Avoid impulse shopping by creating a list of the gifts you are planning to buy. Stick to that list and don’t give in.
Practise Walking Away
Impulse buying is like any addiction — a temporary weakness that goes away. If you walk away, more likely you will lose interest in purchasing the item. You might feel relief and pride in yourself that you didn’t succumb to the impulse. Also, you may discover that you don’t really need or like the item.
Avoid Online Shopping
Shopping online is a multi-billion dollar business. It was created to encourage consumers to use their credit cards. Buying gifts for people that don’t need them with money we don’t even have. Many of my clients switched to shopping online because it’s convenient and accessible.
People with limited mobility are most vulnerable and more likely will chose online shopping. When we are less mobile or ill, we may shop to provide temporary relief from isolation or boredom.
Gifts Certificates
Guessing what each member of your family wants and needs is not an easy task and very seldom works. Giving a gift certificate to their special store, going out to a favourite restaurant, seeing the latest movie is far more memorable than thoughtless gifts that create the stress of clutter. Remember to take lots of pictures.
Homemade Gifts
Homemade gifts are always welcome, especially among the older generation. These people grew up making homemade cookies, jams, clothes and decorations. I believe that we as a society need to change to a more of a simpler way of life in order to grow and prosper.