Silly Season Series ~ Christmas Shopping and the power of planning

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. My close family have always written Christmas wish lists, which works well for us as it removes the stress and everyone receives things they want/need. I like the idea of small consumable treats Andréia, thanks for the post.

    • Hi Sally! I find it excellent to have wish lists, as it saves a lot of time when shopping. As for consumables treats, you can never go wrong with a nice bar of soap or a good chocolate, or a jar of home made jam, or home made cookies…

  2. We only buy gifts for hubby’s family. From us the kids get money. In the past the money has always been put inside balloons…may change that this year, not sure yet. We also put a small amount of money in each stocking…kids and adults. The adults play Dirty Santa with a limit of $25. The oldest child turned 18 this year, and he has chosen to play Dirty Santa with the adults…a hard decision for him because it means he has to bring a gift, and he will not get all the kid gifts. Easier for us because we will take one less kid’s money gift. We were wondering how to stop this at some point because the kids will be having wives and kids also. We had discussed stopping at age 20 or when married. This 18 YO has made it easy for us, but it will be hard to take him off our list…he was always the most excited of all about his money gift… :((

    • Meant to mention that most of the Dirty Santa gifts are usually gift cards.

    • Hi Deanna! I am not from the USA and I would like you to tell me what is a “Dirty Santa”? As for gifts for kids I think they can get their gifts until they are married. That is when I think they go on to have a family of their own and are adults just like us. As for gift cards I find the idea very interesting, but I would ask the person if he/she likes the store where I got the gift card from. If you give cash, you don,t have that problem. Keep your boy on the kids list this year! LOL

      • Hi Andreia, this is a link to Dirty Santa game rules:
        OR you can google it for different ideas.
        As for gift cards in Dirty Santa, you can’t ask what the person likes because you don’t know who will end up with the gift card. Some of the most popular gift cards are for restaurants, iTunes, Cabelas, etc. If a gift is specifically for a woman or a man, it needs to be specified at the beginning of the game.

        Merry Christmas Andreia! Where do you live?

  3. Great post, Andreia. I think you have covered the topic very well.

    Regarding Deanna’s topic of when to stop gifting the children of the extended family, we stopped as they reached about age 18 also. But then there was a year when one family had lost their dad two years after losing their mom, so the rest of us went together to buy gifts for the grown kids. There can always be an exception and the answer is to be flexible and to use common sense.

    Another thing we have done is to bake for each other’s families once we stopped buying for children. We would bake anyhow and this way we get different goodies from usual.

    • Hi Jo H! I find your baking idea very good. As for kids, I think that at 18yo they think they are grown up, but they are still our little kids 😀 ! Where I live the parents gift their children well into adulthood. But being flexible and using common sense as you said is the key to make it work in each family.

  4. This is a good post Andreia. Lots of good points.

  5. Hope I’m not repeating myself. If ever I’m in doubt about a holiday purchase of gift or decor, I ask myself “Did Jesus leave perfect heaven to live among us so I can buy a 3rd world labor made doodad and/or go into credit card debt?” Amazing how this “forces” my arm to put item back on store shelf.

  6. Good list.
    My life was transformed when I started buying Christmas gifts with cash. No more going over budget & no dreaded January bills. With cash when it’s gone that means I’m done!
    Have been using cash for 12 years now & can’t imagine it ever changing.

  7. They are good strategies Andréia.
    I would like to add my own strategy, avoid shopping centres.

  8. Hi everyone! Thanks for reading my post and for commenting! I am sorry I did not come before, life is a bit hectic around here… and it is not because of Christmas shopping! 😀 😀 😀

  9. Hi, Andréia. 🙂 Nice list of tips for Christmas shopping. I try to keep an eye out for sales throughout the year, so that I can pick up some gifts in advance. Spreading it out helps to alleviate the year-end stress and it’s a relief to be able to avoid the last-minute marathon shopping sessions and the crowds.