Finding a great gift for a friend, family member or office Secret Santa can prove challenging. Sure, there’s the worry of the gift selection itself when attempting to buy for the person who has everything, or for someone you barely know. Add in the stresses of gift wrapping, timely delivery if you’re ordering online, and trying to score a just-right item that suits your budget, and you’ve got a perfect holiday-anxiety storm.

Fortunately, reducing holiday stress is very possible. Here are four ways that can help:

  1. Whittle down your list. Even if it feels like your people-to-shop-for list is set in stone, know this: it’s okay to reassess each year. Buying for kids instead of adults in a family-and-friends dynamic is a great way to minimize spending. Or, incorporating an ornament exchange with hard-to-buy-for types will keep the spirit of giving alive without sacrificing your sanity in the process.
  2. Be a purposeful shopper. A great way to avoid buying items your recipients don’t want or need or spending over your limit? Make a list. Whether you prefer to shop in-store or online, being prepared before you buy will help minimize unnecessary purchases. And making a list early on will also help you determine if you’re planning to buy too many gifts, period.
  3. Get emotional. A study published by the Journal of Consumer Psychology found that many participants chose to give a personal but predictable present, assuming the recipient would prefer it. Interestingly, the study found gift recipients valued emotional presents that tugged at their heartstrings instead. So, consider choosing a meaningful gift that helps others through tough times. Take the stress out of personalizing it completely with something like the World Vision catalogue. Since it helps children in the world’s most dangerous places, it can be one way to help everyone feel good about giving.
  4. Shop early and shop smart. Sometimes it’s not possible to finish your holiday shopping well in advance. So, whenever possible, set aside a few hours on a weekend or after work to chip away at your list online or in person and avoid the chaotic last-minute rush. And for those who prefer to shop online but are concerned about delivery dates, shopping early (and with reputable retailers) is even more important.

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