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Guide to Shopping Smart this Holiday Season

It’s officially the season for hot chocolates, cozy sweaters, and reading books on cold winter mornings while listening to Red (Taylor’s Version) on loop to combat the seasonal depression. The excitement of upcoming festivities in the remainder of the year is truly what keeps me going through the cold weather. But, these festivities often call for the added stress of deciding upon what gifts to give people while also not damaging your pockets too much. 

The holiday season is one of my favorite times of the year, but its arrival inevitably means I’m going to have to budget to save up for buying presents. This holiday season is all about spending smart and here’s a six-step guide that will help you save a few bucks this season:

  1. Plan ahead

Planning is the key to everything. From the end of the current holiday season, start planning for the next one by making a list of items that your loved ones might like to receive, or that you feel could be good gifting items. Planning in advance and making a list of items that you could gift will definitely help you save time and money later during the festive season. I know how stressful last minute shopping can be. By planning ahead of time you will not only have a variety of options to choose from, but will also have enough time in hand to arrange for these presents, which will overall just avoid the hassle of last minute shopping. That said, it’s never too late to start planning and making lists of gifting ideas.

A simple way that I keep track of gifts I need to purchase is by using the notes app on my iPhone. I also use Instagram, Pinterest or TikTok for gifting inspiration. If you wish to go the extra mile (like I usually like to), you can make albums, pin boards, or save ideas that appeal the most to you. This way, when the holiday season comes around the corner, you can avoid the hassle of last minute hunting for presents and can simply go back and refer to these – that way you are not only able to plan ahead of time, you can also stay organized with your ideas. 

  1. Deciding on a budget

Once you have a comprehensive list of possible gifting options, decide on a budget. This does not have to be a huge amount of money and will differ from person-to-person. It is completely normal to have a budget on the lower end of the spectrum or even on the higher. Once you have a rough budget in mind, take a moment to consider what your major purchases are going to be. You don’t want to spend all your money buying one present and having none left to buy the others. Try identifying presents that could be costly and are important to you. This will help you narrow down your options while also budgeting effectively. 

  1. Online shopping

Post-pandemic brands and online stores have upscaled their online shopping platforms greatly. Shopping in-person may be more beneficial if you are looking to spend on luxury brands. However, if you are just looking for simple, cute, and conventional gifts, or are just too lazy to physically shop in stores, online shopping may be the right route for you. 

Online shopping websites are constantly offering discounts all year round. Try signing up to their mailing lists if you are looking for items that are often sold out or are just looking for big seasonal discounts. I know how annoying it is to be constantly bombarded with spam emails from shopping websites, but sometimes that has proved to be beneficial when it comes to major discounts and offers. Most websites have huge season-wide sales during the year, and keeping an eye out for them could save your pocket from taking a heavier hit. Moreover, using student discounts from websites such as UniDays and StudentBeans or using coupon codes could also aid in shopping smart this season.

  1. Focus on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Black Friday is one of the best times to shop during the year – all your favorite items but cheaper! Black Friday shopping physically in stores can be quite tedious and cumbersome. Hence, online platforms are the next best alternative, as most online shopping platforms give out free next-day shipping during this period. Black Friday sales are sometimes a steal when it comes to buying items that you wouldn’t usually pay extra for, but would be willing to pay for at discounted prices. I know how easy it is to succumb to tempting sales throughout the year and go on impulsive shopping sprees, but it is worth it waiting for Black Friday to be a bit more tactical and intentional about your purchases.

However, if you are looking to buy electronics, Cyber Monday is the day for you. Amazon has huge Cyber Monday deals every year where you can get your favorite electronics at discounted prices. So if you are waiting to buy the latest iPhone or a new MacBook, this is the day for you.

  1. Supporting small businesses

In a day-and-age of rapidly increasing consumerism and the rise of fast-fashion, consider supporting small businesses. In St Andrews alone there are a handful of small businesses, and, to be completely honest, they have the cutest gifting options to choose from. Look around where you live and see if there are any small businesses that you would be willing to support this holiday season. Small businesses struggle to compete with the bigger retail giants, so this holiday season consider shopping small.

If you are unable to find small businesses in your local city or town, you can look them up online on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Etsy. These small businesses are usually relatively affordable but sometimes they can be slightly costly compared to your conventional retailers. But, considering that their products are often handmade or ethically produced, it might be worth shopping small businesses anyway. 

  1. Buying Experiences

Memories last a lifetime, and this holiday season consider buying experiences instead of materialistic gifts. Due to the pandemic, many of us have missed out on fun-filled experiences and are dying to make up for lost time. Gifting experiences can be anything from a voucher to an art café, to going for a road trip, go-karting, board game cafes, staycations, and more. If you’d like to gift an experience but are at a loss for inspiration, have a look on Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok for ideas on how to make lifelong memories and have fun this holiday season. 

If you follow this guide, I’m sure you will be able to shop smart this holiday season and save up on a few extra bucks to spend on yourself. After all, you deserve at least a small gift from yourself for making it through a turbulent year and ending 2021 on a good and positive note!

Syna Singh

St Andrews '24

Syna Singh is a second year at St Andrews majoring in Economics and Management. She is originally from India but has lived her whole life in sunny Dubai. Photography, traveling, tennis and blogging are some of her interests. In addition to that, she hates being unproductive but also loves binge-watching true crime series, kdramas, rom-coms and of course, The Office!
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