6 Christmas Shopping Tips to Make the Holidays Hassle-Free

Santa might have a whole team of elves on his side, but you'll have the holiday shopping advantage with these super useful shopping tips.

Updated October 30, 2023
Woman is window shopping in decorated street

We love the hustle and bustle of holiday gift shopping, but gifting stress is the real deal, too. This year, we're planning to keep a few Christmas shopping tips in mind to make it all a whole lot merrier.

We asked members of our editorial team what makes their holiday shopping run a little more smoothly, and everyone had a few small tips and tricks to stay organized and buy the perfect presents.

Note What People in Your Life Love

One of the best Christmas shopping hacks we've ever heard is keeping notes on your phone about what people on your list might want. If you're super organized (like we wish we were), you can do this all year long. But even if you're just starting your gift recon, you can make this work by opening a new note on your phone, making a list of names, and asking yourself some questions about the people in your life:

  • What's each person's favorite color?
  • What clothing sizes do they wear?
  • Is there something they're super into as a hobby?
  • What are their favorite foods or flavors? What about candies?
Quick Tip

Don't know the answer to these questions? No worries. Your phone is already in your hand, so send off a quick text!

If you have a specific idea for a present, go ahead and jot that down. But don't stress if you don't. Just being aware of their preferences and having those handy on your phone gets you part of the way to perfect Christmas gift.

Get Christmas Shopping Inspiration From Their Hobby

You know that list you made with everyone's hobbies and interests? Pull that out and put it to good use. Whether you need a gift for a baker, a ballet enthusiast, or a board gamer, their interest is the ultimate hack to the perfect present. Think about what they might need or enjoy having to do what they really love. It might be tickets to an event, a special accessory or tool, or even a gift certificate to a hobby shop.

Woman using credit card for online shopping at Christmas time

Not all hobbies have to be in depth, either. While you might not know exactly what to get your brother who's into playing guitar, you can definitely go a little more general and find the perfect present for any foodie on your list (including your brother).

Go Thrift-mas Shopping

We get that buying something that's not brand new can feel a little weird, but hear us out, because hitting up the thrift store is actually one of our very favorite tips for Christmas shopping. Basically, this is your absolute best bet for finding something unique and really cool that no one else is going to give. It's also awesome for showing how well you know the person and their specific taste (it's hard to beat a vintage Snoopy sweatshirt from the 80s for your best friend who loves Snoopy).

Quick Tip

The key here is doing a pass of the store for each person on your list. That way, you're thinking about what that person loves as you browse and won't miss something perfect because you didn't have that person in mind.

As an added bonus, Christmas shopping at the thrift store is way easier on your budget. If you're careful, you can get a lot more for a lot less money, and that will make you and everyone on your list happy.

Embrace the Inspired Holiday Gift Basket

Sometimes, we see the perfect present, but we don't buy it because it's not really enough of a gift. We're talking that coffee mug with the hilariously sarcastic comment your sister would love or that awesome kitchen gadget you know your dad would be all over. We're going to let you in on a little secret: those perfect little items are the start of the ultimate holiday gift basket.

Christmas gift basket

All you need is one thing to inspire you. Grab that coffee mug and pair it with her favorite coffee, some biscotti from the local bakery, and a cute spoon. Toss it in a basket, and you've got the perfect, personal gift for your sister. Same goes with the kitchen gadget for your dad. You just need a couple of other small things for a present that feels totally luxe.

Here's the basic holiday gift basket formula:

  • One anchor item that's your inspiration
  • One consumable item that goes with it
  • One local item to match
  • Something small and adorable that you can use with it
  • A cute bag or basket to hold it all

Gift Experiences Instead of Things

This is one of our absolute favorite ways to share holiday cheer. Instead of giving the people you love another tchotchke, give them something to do. Think about what the person you're gifting likes to do. It could be tickets to a concert, an outdoor adventure, a reading with a psychic, or an online class you know they've been wanting to take. It's a thoughtful gift that saves a ton of packaging and wrapping paper, and it turns into an experience your recipient will never forget. 

Use Storage Tubs to Organize Gifts All Season

Knowing how to Christmas shop also means keeping track of what you've bought and what you still need to get. Start with a list of what you've bought and for whom, but it also helps to have a gift storage strategy in place to keep things straight.

There's no shame in a pile of boxes in the corner of your bedroom, but we totally love the idea of assigning an (opaque) storage bin for each kid or family member on your list and putting the gifts in there as you buy them. You can stack them way better than boxes or shopping bags, and it will be easy to take inventory so you know what else you need to buy. Bonus: When it's time to wrap, it's all in one place.

Beat the Christmas Chaos

Adding a few Christmas shopping tips to your planning this year can make the whole holiday a lot more jolly. The chaos of Christmas is real, but it's no match for a smart shopper.

6 Christmas Shopping Tips to Make the Holidays Hassle-Free