Christmas Shopping Personalities

types of christmas shopping

It’s here: the most wonderful time of the year. Both my apartment and my space at the office are decorated — I even have stockings over my fireplace like a self-respecting adult. (That’s a sign of having made it as an adult, right?) My favorite thing about this time of year is getting to buy the gifts I know will bring joy to my loved ones, then watching them open them!

Holiday shopping has never been stressful for me (except for finding the money to do it — a rite of passage for just about anyone in their early 20’s) because I’m very much a “gut instinct” buyer. And the better I know someone, the better I can buy for them.

Typically, I don’t premeditate my buying much. I may have a few ideas (some of which I might fixate a bit on) but typically I don’t know exactly what I want until I see it — and then it’s ON. Sometimes, the gifts I buy are (seemingly) a little out of left field, but I take pride in buying good gifts for those close to me.

Really, this decisiveness is odd for me. I usually can’t decide what to order at restaurants, but I know exactly what I want to get for others.

Apparently, this sort of short-and-fast decisiveness isn’t all that typical in Christmas shopping. I’ve actually come to identify a few different shopping personalities.

The Planner

There are some people in my life who plan Christmas gifts months in advance — and start buying them as early as September. I’ve learned to consult them when our gift recipients overlap. It’s hard to compete with a champ who’s already finished most of their shopping before you’ve ever thought about it.

The Cavalier Santa

Some of my friends and family are pretty casual about gift-buying. For better or worse, they don’t intend to put much emotional commitment into it. They buy blanket gifts for large groups (like a sausage and cheese basket for everyone they know) or the same gifts every year (like one family member who has a very fun, much-loved tradition of buying scratchers tickets for all of the adult nieces and nephews). This doesn’t mean gifts are bad, by any means; it just means that the buyer is saving themselves some stress. If anything, it’s a form of self-preservation for the gift-buyer.

The Intense Deal-Finder

The gifts this person buys may or may not be relevant to the recipient, but DAMMIT they got a good deal on that $270 wine bottle opener and you’re GOING to enjoy it. Not all of these thrifty gifters are negligent regarding the recipients. Sometimes they’re actually among the most thoughtful givers! Regardless of whether the gift is the best gift ever or something you’ll never use, you’ll probably end up hearing about what a great deal they got on it. That said, I’m always, always, always impressed by the discounts they’ve found.

The Fixator

There is one perfect gift out there for every single person on your list and if that gift falls through, the entire holiday is ruined.

The Gut Instinct Shopper (Me)

You don’t necessarily know what the perfect gift will be, but when you see it/think of it, you know. Sometimes this leads toward Fixator tendencies, but Gut Instinct Shoppers tend to be much more flexible. If a Plan A falls through, they keep looking until they find a Plan B that piques their instincts.

The Panicker

For this subset, picking out gifts is about as stressful as it gets. There is pacing, there is intense internal struggle, and maybe even an identity crisis or two. Honestly, though, these gift buyers tend to be the most conscientious (unless they slip into such a hysterical state that they can’t think clearly.)

I had never really seen a Panicker in action until I helped Josh do some Christmas shopping over the weekend (he’s on the milder side of the spectrum, I think). He deliberated every potential gift in-depth, and often talked himself out of buying things even if he was convinced it was perfect. (To his credit, he already knew some of the gifts he wanted to buy.) Then, he confessed that he stresses the most about buying gifts for me. It made me feel bad, because I honestly think he’s the easiest person for me to buy for.

During this Christmas shopping outing, we were taking some extra time talking through gifts for his baby cousins. In the midst of the emotional turmoil of picking out gifts for tiny humans that are too young to have hobbies, Josh noticed a familiar face walking by. Our friend, Ryan, was there shopping with his family. After some small talk and jokes about how incriminating the sight of the two of us in the baby section of Target was, suddenly he had his phone out. And he took a picture.


target baby department

Photo care of Ryan, who requested to be described as “the World’s Biggest Grinch.” The caption read: “Listen, all I’m saying is that I caught them shopping in the children’s section.

I apologize that it’s definitely not the best picture of me. My cowlick is doing something crazy here.

I want to clarify that we were ONLY in the baby department to buy gifts.

So, would you add any Christmas shopping personalities to this list? What do you think your personality (or personalities) is (are)?



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