4 Steps to Be Kind and Reduce the Stress of (COVID) Holiday Gift Shopping

Local Shop Owner in store

With COVID lockdowns, many non-essential stores closed and all the stresses of shopping in person – one easy way to de-stress your holiday gift-buying is to shop online. While COVID has forced many small stores to close, many more have moved into the online space – and you may be surprised at the range of goods you can now order online.

Plus, another benefit of online shopping is that many stores will now send direct to the recipient – especially if it’s a subscription gift – which means no wrapping!

So, what’s the kindest way of gift-shopping for the holidays this year?

Well, apart from shopping online, the easiest way to make your gift purchasing as stress-free as possible means not leaving it until the last minute. So why not start now and block off one night this week to get yourself organized?

In this series of two articles we first have an easy 4 Steps to reduce holiday gift shopping stress – plus a fun selection of gift ideas that can be purchased online for everyone on your list…

Here are 4 Easy Steps to Reduced-Stress Holiday Gift Shopping

STEP 1: Start early. Start now

Even with online shopping, there could well be postal delays and smaller businesses especially may get overwhelmed with orders late in the day.

Be kind to yourself. Don’t miss out, do your shopping online now, and then you can relax and enjoy the holiday season.

STEP 2: Align your gift-shopping with your values

COVID has changed the way many of us see our world, and what matters most.

Many people don’t have work at the moment and finances are tight (maybe that’s you too). We’re all becoming more aware that “capitalism” is not working for many people, and that many big companies have so much power they’re damaging our planet, treating their staff poorly and avoiding taxes. We’ve seen our local small businesses struggle – and are all more appreciative of our local community stores and services. We’re also staying home more, finding ways to stay in touch and show our love and appreciation in new ways.

So, how can you be kind, connect to yourself and consider what matters most to you as you shop for gifts this year?

Ask, “What’s most important to you when you shop for holiday gifts this year?”

Here are some ideas for what you might want to focus on:
  • Ease and/or saving time?
  • Choosing gifts that match your values?
  • Supporting your local community?
  • Quality over quantity?
  • Gifts that are gentle on the planet?
  • Being careful with your budget?
  • Being creative and making things?
  • Something else? All of the above?

Once you know what’s important to you about gift-buying this year, move onto Step 3.

STEP 3: Set a budget for gifts

With the world as it is right now, no-one needs to get surprised with a huge bill in January. So, be kind to yourself – and your finances.

This year is not a year for gift heroics with your partner, children, parents or besties. Instead this is a year to be thoughtful – and financially sensible.

So, set a budget following the steps below:

  1. Make a list of people you want to get gifts for.
  2. Set a total budget for gifts.
  3. Now apportion an amount to each person on your gift list.
  4. You may be surprised by how much it all adds up! If so, you have a couple of options:
    • Reduce the amounts for each person until they come into line with your total budget
    • Increase your total budget
    • Remove a few people from your gift list – or plan to make something for them instead.
  5. IMPORTANT: Track your spending as you go. Depending on how important it is to you to track your budget, you may need to reduce your spending on someone if you overspend on someone else.
Who needs a belief shift?

Many of us are raised to shop around for the cheapest option – and not “waste” money. Or we may have been taught “not to be a chump” and be taken advantage of by paying more for something than we should. But small businesses simply don’t have the buying power of big companies.

So sometimes other values may be more more important. We may want to support small, local or to choose quality over size and quantity. We may want to consider custom, small-batch over factory made.

Yet some of us just don’t have the budget to buy as much when we support our values like this. And this may require a belief shift from us – or our giftees: to value fewer, perhaps more meaningful gifts in the service of making the world a better place for all.

STEP 4 (OPTIONAL): Let your giftees know you’re doing something different this year

If you’re changing the way you do gifts this year (eg. switching to online, spending less, even not buying gifts or making something instead), you still have several weeks to casually mention this in conversation with your giftees so they’re not surprised.

You could try saying something like:

  • Because of all the weirdness with COVID, we’re trying something different with gifts this year and we’ll be doing _____.
  • Or: because of all the weirdness with COVID, we’re not giving regular gifts this year. Instead we’re making charitable donations instead/giving home-made gifts/postponing our celebration etc.
  • Or: because of the financial/_____ impacts of COVID, we’re not giving gifts this year. I hope you understand.
  • Or: COVID has really led us to think about what matters, so we’re aligning our shopping habits with our values this year. This means we’re giving fewer gifts but supporting small and local.

Some final thoughts for careful online shopping:

  • If you can, use your Credit Card to shop online – many Credit Cards have buyer protection, so if something doesn’t arrive or isn’t what you expect and the seller doesn’t want to “play ball” and fix the situation you still have an opportunity to get your money back.
  • If you’re going to give gift cards to local businesses, do consider – ask even – what happens if they close and the gift card hasn’t been used.
  • And if you really want to get something (perhaps you found the perfect gift), but you’re not sure about how reliable the online store is, the kind thing for yourself may be not to buy it.


Gift-giving doesn’t need to be stressful. KIND gift-shopping means having a budget, planning ahead and ensuring that your giving matches your values.

If you like this, you may also like:

Remember: Change the world, start with you!

Image of Friendly Local Shopkeeper by Monkey Business Images via Shutterstock

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