According to Statistics Canada, during the holiday season, an average Canadian spends about $250 more than usual (per month). This hustle and bustle of consumerism is something that everyone takes part in annually. Many manage to go way over their budget or run into other problems like running out of time to finish picking the perfect present for their loved ones.

Recently, and I mean recently (last week… today) I’ve been roaming around malls, vintage stores, boutiques, the works, looking to get my Christmas shopping done early. I rushed by the sea of eager shoppers and noticed how many were struggling, getting shoelaces caught onto escalators, bags stuck on door handles, all the madness you can imagine.

Each year, I’ve learned new tricks and therefore have pleased both myself, and my gift receivers. I’m hopefully correct when I assume that most (or maybe, who knows, all) of you are students. We students are put under the pressure of many big projects before our short hibernating period –the winter break.  We have so little time, and we all have many irons in the fire. So, I’ve come up with some tips for you all to save time and money this holiday season, while still impressing your family and friends.

Beautiful Chaos

Start early. There will be literally thousands of people out at the last weeks before Christmas. It’s better to start early and get that feeling of relief before your friends. It will also give you time to do more things like spending quality time with the ones you care for.

Make a list. – of whom you are shopping for, of what your budget is for each person, when and where you plan to shop. This will actually save you a lot of time when you go out, and if you’re not up for something, just skip to the next place on your list.

Go with an open mind. You never know what you might find. Look through every store that piques your interest. Instead of sauntering about, check through all the racks. You might find more than just a handful of plastic hangers.

Try to go alone. Shopping alone lets you be more focused. If you do decide to go with a friend, don’t go with a competitive one. It may end up messy, and you may even be jealous of what the other finds.  On the other hand, if you feel like you really need a second opinion, bring them following week.

Wear comfortable clothes. The last thing you want is to be that person tugging around their own clothes, stopping in the middle of the street, and being scowled at by countless pedestrians. If you’re buying things for yourself as well, it’s always better to try on everything you can. For this, try to wear neutrally coloured undergarments. Prints can be seen through sheer tops and it may change your mind of what you purchase.

Wear comfortable shoes. You have to be prepared to walk for several hours. If you want to get the bigger bang for your buck, don’t expect to find amazing deals as soon as you step out of your house. Wear your comfiest puppies and you’ll be fine.

Don’t carry too many heavy items. Seriously. It’s tiring enough to walk around the mall, pushing through masses of people.  Leave all your knick knacks at home, people!

Bring music/ a little bottle of water. You may get tired easily and a sip here and there will keep you hydrated. Also, listening to music while you shop might help by draining the noise of other customers shrieking for a different size.

If you can, buy things online. Buying your presents online does save a lot of time and everything can be done in the comfort of your own home. For guys this is great because you don’t have to go to the dreaded mall and you don’t have to follow your girlfriend or boyfriend for hours, half-listening to what they think of ‘these awesome boots’. When buying things online, make sure you know exactly what product you are buying. The only issue with buying items online is returning, and making sure you know when your purchase is being arriving.

Don’t buy cards, make them.  Hallmark is making a killing right now anyways, so why not? In 500 Days of Summer, all these manufactured cards are ‘the reason for this heartache’. So go ‘head and make your own. Write how you truly feel about someone, sketch a doodle, string together a poem. Whatever it is, it’s truly by you and everyone loves a good hand written note more than a wall full of less than threes.

The Madhouse at Night

Group gifts. Got a friend whose birthday is in the holiday season? Or planning to really treat your mom to the best gift? Join forces with your friends or siblings to get presents that go well together and that will surely please them. For example, you may get a limited edition Star Wars Moleskine and your friend might join you with some rad Copic pens. Who wouldn’t love that?

Give gifts that people can actually use and appreciate. An expensive present isn’t always the best one. Whether you’re low on budget or not, a memory is worth more than any of the latest gadgets. Put your talents to use. Paint your friend a beautiful landscape or cool fan art of their favourite band. Even better, make dinner with them, and just have an amazing time together.

Gift receipts. Everyone has their own opinion on things and even if you may get a little offended by them returning an item, you know that you’ve tried your best and both of you will be satisfied.

Size matters. –Especially for gifts such as a pair of shoes, size is obviously very important. Make sure you check your friend’s shoe/clothing size from before, to save either of you from the hassle of exchanging it later.

Compare costs. Not sure if it’s worth the price that’s given? Check other stores. You never know how much you might save by stepping into a store just a block away.

Hopefully you have found these tips helpful.

Good luck & Happy Holidays everyone!