Oct. 11, 2021

Ask Amy- Should I Have My Holiday Shopping *Done* Already?

Is holiday shopping worth starting early this year? Yes, there are Covid-related supply chain issues. On the other hand, “You must buy now!" sounds suspiciously like something a retailer might want you to believe. Either way, one listener’s relative is feeling–and outsourcing the pressure.

Do you have friends and loved ones who complete their holiday shopping by October 15 and make you stressed that you haven't even started? You might identify with this week's question:

I feel like you're a voice of reason so I was wondering if you could answer a simple question for me: should I be buying my kids’ Christmas gifts right now? My mother-in-law is insisting on receiving holiday wish lists so that she can shop “while there are still toys on the shelves.” It sounds a bit alarmist to me, but is she right?

Short answer: kind of. There are reasons to believe that holiday shopping is worth starting early in 2021. There are supply chain issues at many stores (although that also complicates early-bird shopping); the USPS has announced an official slowdown; and continued pandemic uncertainty means retailers might not wait until Black Friday to release their best deals. On the other hand, "Buy it all! Buy it now!" sounds suspiciously like something a retailer's publicist might really want you to believe is in your best interest as a consumer.

Our suggestion, if it's something that's available to you: take this opportunity as a Pandemic Reset Win. If you end up buying fewer gifts this year, that might be a good thing.

There's a second issue at play here, and it's how to handle friends, coworkers, and loved ones who are feeling high levels of anxiety and stress and trying really hard to unload some of it onto us. It's called "second-hand anxiety," and it's hard not to be agitated by it. But the anxiety you're feeling really is your mother-in-law's, and not your own. Keeping that in mind will hopefully make it a little easier to keep moments like these in perspective.

For more on second-hand anxiety, read Reina Gattuso's article for Talkspace: What Is Second-Hand Anxiety?

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