Posted by: Viviana M. Rueda Image | November 24, 2007

For All: Holiday Shopping Tips

Oh-Ye Dread of Holiday Shopping.   Admit it…you know you get a cold rock in your stomach at the thought of Holiday shopping.  Well here are my top ten suggestions on how to get a handle on your shopping:

1. Plan, plan, plan.  Uh-HUH.  I know that’s something many of you don’t want to do, but if you want to save yourself a quick trip to the salon to get rid of the gray hairs that you’re going to get from not planning ahead, then listen up (if you don’t want to listen, call me, because I’ve the perfect person to help you get rid of the grays).  The secret to maintaining your sanity is sitting down and putting some forethought to your shopping strategy before you head into the throngs of shoppers.  Ask yourself:  Who do I need to shop for?  How many gifts do I need?  Can I get most of these gifts in one spot?  Can I do any shopping online?  Try to do this right after Thanksgiving…after all, what else do you have to do other than digest your turkey dinner, especially if you’re not a football fan.   Unless of course you read my last Holiday Blog and you are going for a walk after dinner in which case, handle the health conscious walk first, then deal with your shopping list.
2. Budget.  In so many people’s minds it’s a dirty word.  Let’s make it our friend.  Try not to think of it as a restraint or constraint but rather a helpful tool to assist in quickly eliminating potential gifts and honing your gift list down.  Determining your budget will go a long way in making your shopping effective and efficient.
3.  Lay out your game plan.  Prior to going shopping, take your handy-dandy shopping list which you’ve already determined hypothetically according to your budget and map out where you need to go.  Knowing that you need to go to Century City Mall for your mother, the Third Street Promenade for your kids, and Beverly Hills for your wife will become a logistical nightmare real quick in L.A. traffic if you don’t plan accordingly.  It’s no different in any other city during the Holiday season – Traffic is just murderous, so plan accordingly.
4. Timing.  It’s different in every shopping district but in my experience, hitting the stores the minute they open is your best bet.  Do not, if you value your sanity, go shopping on a Saturday at 1 p.m.  If you have a desire to document the effect that shopping has on the human psyche sit yourself down at the local mall parking lot and have fun…People get a little tense with all the crowds, so do your best to avoid them…In fact, for those of you reality TV people, I’m not kidding, document the shopping experience, it’s really kind of amusing how crazy we all get during the shopping season, it would make for funny TV!
5. Water and feed.  Getting into a restaurant during the shopping season is as easy as getting Paris Hilton to give up “That’s Hot”.  So when you head out, either make a reservation beforehand and expect to wait a little while even with a reservation OR take some snacks with you.  Also, make sure you take a bottle of water with you, you’re going to get cranky really fast if you get dehydrated and good luck getting to the food court counter to order a small bottle of water for $5.50!  That’ll put you in the Holiday spirit real quick.
6. Gift receipts.  Most name brand stores will do this automatically but if they don’t, make sure you ask for one.  And, when you have the gifts wrapped, request that the receipt be tastefully taped to some tissue paper somewhere where it will easily be seen by the recipient.  Remember: no matter how good you are at shopping you never know if someone will want something slightly different.  Kids for instance change their minds about their favorite things at an outstanding speed.  “What?  Your favorite color isn’t black? You’re no longer Goth but Ralph Lauren-friendly?”  You get the idea.   Get the gift receipt.

7.  Return policies.  Before you buy and ask for that gift receipt, ask about the store’s return policy.  They vary all over the country.  Some stores have great policies and others are very rigid, so don’t run the risk of being surprised after you’ve already had them run your credit card.
8. Leverage Mall amenities.  This time of year is huge for malls, and mall managers know this.  So some malls will provide free or discounted gift wrapping, hospitality suites, concerts and entertainment.  You may as well take advantage of it and get into the spirit.
9. Safety.  A few words about the happy stealing season:  Do not leave packages in the back seat of your car, and do not put packages in the trunk while in clear view of others.  Put the packages in the trunk before you head to your next destination.  Don’t carry large amounts of cash. You’d be surprised at how stealthy pickpockets can be.  Women…please don’t break out the uber expensive jewelry and wear it to the mall.  This is a favorite time of year for women to be followed from malls!  If you happen to be wearing, say, a large amount of big diamonds, these folks will follow you to the next parking lot and kindly divest you of the heavy load.  And, of course, please keep an eye on your kids in the crowds.
10. Have fun.  It’s the Holiday season for goodness sake.  Have fun with it, explore your inner Mother Theresa patience, let your happy inner child out (no, not the angry two year-old inner child) and go with the flow.  Just remember that not everyone else may be experiencing your inner peace and don’t take it personally, they probably didn’t read my Blog tips.  Just wish them a Happy Holiday Season!

Up until December 27th the Vivendi Fashionista Blog will feature tips and tricks on navigating the Holiday season as well as other Holiday-related themes.  So stay tuned over the next 5 weeks.  The Blog will be on Holiday hiatus the first week of January 2008.

Tip of the Week
If you’ve read the Holiday shopping suggestions and have admitted that you still dislike shopping and are abominable at it, there’s hope, because guess what?  I don’t hate it and I’m good at Holiday shopping too!  Not to pat myself on the back, but really, I’m very good at pinpointing what you are looking for and coming up with good gift ideas.  So this year I’m offering a special package as an incentive for new clients.  I’ll work with you to figure out which gifts you want in advance of shopping and layout a strategy on how to approach it so that:  A.  You don’t lose your marbles this shopping season; B.  I’ll make it fun for you; and C. You’ll be the rock star this year with the great gifts.  So for the killer rate of the year (my existing clients are cursing me now), I’m offering this package for $350.  Okay, some disclaimers.  No, I’m not going to find a baby elephant for your daughter and have him shipped here from Mumbai for that rate.  Let’s get real.  BUT I will prepare you in advance and go shopping with you for a reasonable amount of gifts…this depends on your definition of reasonable but we’ll work it out.  SO.  Plan ahead and email me or call me soon to schedule a time: 310.901.9256,  I get super booked during November/December and I want to help you and your friends.  Oh, and forward to your friends and family.  Have them join the “I give the coolest gifts and aren’t I the rock star this Holiday Season” crowd.

Happy Shopping & Happy Holidays,

Viviana M. Rueda
Creative Founder
Vivendi Fashionista


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