Can you believe it’s that time of the year again? We are in the final quarter of the year – and if you haven’t already noticed; so much has changed. Since the onset of the pandemic, we’ve seen how it’s drastically changed the way we live and navigate through life. Various safety precautions, mask mandates and so much more have become our new normal. We’ve grown accustomed to our online orders being processed and at our front door in a two-day timespan. Due to shortages and inflated pricing, we’ve grown to see just how spoiled we’ve been all along. As the holiday season swiftly approaches, use these tips to ensure your gift giving will make it in the hands of those that matter the most in a timely manner.
Procrastination comes at a price
I know life takes many twists and turns. We get distracted and our “nice to do” items take a backseat to our “must do” checklist. However, let’s keep in mind things have indeed changed. If you’re more of a last-minute shopper – your pockets will not be pleased. Store inventory fluctuates and expedited shipping may not be an option. Shortages of materials worldwide have drastically slowed down the production process. This also doesn’t include if you are relying on the Postal Service to ship items. Do yourself a favor and identify gifts as early as possible. Even if this means gifts will be given early, at least you’ll have the peace of mind they’ll be in your loved ones hands early.
Shop small, local businesses
If your family is local, put some dates on the calendar to shop and swap gifts in person. In this way you have the ability to spend quality time and support your community by shopping locally. There could be some unique finds that aren’t available at major retailers, making the gift much more thoughtful. If you’re in an area where brick and mortar local shops are limited, search small businesses and there will be pages full of results. Utilize Etsy and social media as well to discover small businesses located all over the world.
Verify updated processing and shipping timelines
Major retailers and small businesses alike have updated their order processing times to make room for things outside of their control. To cut back on confusion, be sure to take note of the updated timeframes on their websites and social media. If necessary, create a list of the companies you’re looking to patronize this holiday season. This will allow you to have a running list handy, and you’ll be able to prioritize orders. Many major retailers will handle the logistics for you when directly placing orders. To alleviate the burden, opt for using their shipping services to avoid any hassle.
Research mail carriers and varying costs
In case you (or your pockets) haven’t noticed, the price of everything has increased and shipping has been no exception. The Postal Service, FedEx and UPS have been swamped – working long hours with substantial labor shortages. Check their websites often to get the most up-to-date shipping information. Shipping timelines and dates have recently been released, so be sure to send off beforehand for good measure. We’ve seen the impacts of delays, so err on the side of caution. When in doubt, visit your local stores or call if you need further assistance. Whether you’re shipping locally or internationally, it might be best to opt for package insurance and pay for tracking if not provided.
Packages being lost, stolen and/or damaged have hugely increased, so protect yourself as much as possible. Remember, holiday package issues will still be occurring well into the first quarter of 2022; start early to avoid being caught in the holiday frenzy.
Opt for digital gift cards
Many large retailers want to make it as easy as possible for their customers to do two things; shop and spend money. To avoid the hassle of expensive shipping fees and lost packages try your hand at digital gift cards. All you need is an email address and your gracious gift will be directly in their inbox. If you still would like to mail a physical gift card, that is also an option and will be sent to the receivers’ address. Also, you don’t have to concern yourself with shipping, returning or purchasing something the receiver may not care for. Gift them with the gift of choice; it’s a win-win situation!
Revamp the traditional gift giving ideas
While some people are very adamant about providing gifts for their family and friends, have you taken the time to consider what it is your loved one actually enjoys? Gifts don’t always have to be the traditional material item. The pandemic has impacted all of us – some in the most unfortunate ways. There has been a lot of loss, grief and overall stress that is still very prevalent in our lives. Instead of purchasing a new phone or camera, think about giving that person a quick vacation or getaway. For the same price, that could provide your family member with a life-changing experience. Instead of a sweater or coat, consider a massage gift card or a spa day. If a loved one hasn’t had the opportunity to travel and desires to, opt for a flight voucher. Get creative and think outside of the box.
For the small business owner in your family, consider ordering their products or making a donation to keep their business going. An interactive learning course is a great alternative to a traditional book. Quite frankly, some family members may be happy with a bill being paid or much needed quality time. Before considering what you would want them to have, do yourself a favor and ask them first!
Now more than ever, it’s essential to remember that time is of the essence. No gift is more important than spending time with the ones you love and care about most. Laughter and fellowship are gifts that can never be bought.
Marsha Barnes is a finance guru with over 20 years of experience dedicates her efforts to empower women worldwide to become financially thriving. Financial competency and literacy are a passion of Marsha’s, providing practical information for clients increasing their overall confidence in their personal finances.