Adults with ADHD: Tips for Holiday Shopping

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • Holiday shopping season is upon us. You probably have intentions of making this year different, more organized; you might even have the goal of having your shopping done weeks ahead of the holiday. But for adults with ADHD, inattention, disorganization and impulsiveness often get in the way. As an adult with ADHD you might:

    • Love the holidays. You enjoy the lights, the music, the activity - all of it. You start your holiday before Thanksgiving, or maybe even Halloween, attending every party and holiday event. You are out the door before the stores open for Black Friday (or heading out to the mall Thanksgiving night). You check out every sale. You love taking it all in but never seem to get anything accomplished.
    • Find shopping overwhelming. You hate standing in line, find the crowds annoying and avoid the mall at all costs.
    • You overspend. You head to the mall (or online) with every intention of getting only the gifts on your list but then get taken in by the beautiful displays and head off in all different directions. You buy gifts, but when you get home you realize you haven’t bought what you planned to buy and now either need to take back what you bought and start again or just buy more.
    • You feel you need a deadline to get anything accomplished and so you wait, and wait, and wait until the very last minute then dash off to the mall to buy all your gifts. You need to settle for what is left in stores.
    • You decide to skip the malls and do all your shopping online. Except you get distracted and surf the web for hours, either without buying a single thing or buying things you need (want) and forgetting all about buying gifts.
    • You haven’t given a thought about what gifts to buy, you are sure you will “know the right gift when you see it” and spend hours wandering the mall buying gifts. When you  get home and look at the items you bought, you can’t imagine what you are thinking.

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    No matter which category you fit in, the best plan is to have a plan. Easier said than done but the following tips may help:

    • Look over your finances and decide on how much money you can spend
    • Write a list of people you are planning to buy a gift and give each person an amount you are able to spend
    • Think about their wants, hobbies, interests and come up with one or two ideas for each person. Be creative. (This is where surfing the web comes in handy - spend time browsing - not buying - to get ideas)
    • Decide where you want to shop. Choose a specific mall or you may prefer online shopping - decide which is best for you. Some adults with ADHD prefer the activity of walking around the mall to stay focused while others find the malls much too overwhelming.
    • Prepare for shopping. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep and have a good meal before heading to the mall or online to help with focus. Spend a few minutes taking deep breaths or meditating to calm yourself.
    • Choose a method to pay for your purchases. During the holiday season, carrying a lot of cash isn’t advisable, but you can deposit only the amount you plan to spend in an account and use a debit card for that account (don’t bring any other credit/debit cards with you.) Or you may want to purchase a prepaid card with your holiday money and use it strictly for shopping.
    • Keep your list with you. As soon as you buy a gift, cross it off your list, write down how much you spent and deduct it from your total. Keep track of exactly how much money you spent and how much you have left.
    • Keep the kids at home. Nothing is more distracting than shopping with your children. You spend time and focus paying attention to what they are doing and where they are. Instead, budget some money for a babysitter so you can stay focused.
    • Bring a friend along. Ask him or her to keep your list and guide you in the direction you need to go next.
    • Shop at off times. If you can’t shop during the week, during the day, try shopping right after work when many people head home for dinner. You might find it easier to navigate the mall when there are less people.
    • Shop at a mall you know. Holiday shopping isn’t the best time to explore new malls. Stay with the familiar.

  • Don’t stress about it. The people on your list love you for who you are, not because of the gift you buy (or they shouldn’t be on your list.) The holidays are about sharing time, creating memories, showing people you care. Concentrate on what is important instead of stressing out about shopping.

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    More Holiday Information:

    How to Survive the Holidays with ADHD or Autism


    Avoiding Impulsive Purchases When Holiday Shopping


    Surviving the Holidays with ADD/ADHD Children


    Adults with ADD/ADHD: Ten Tips for Making the Most of the Holiday Season


    Tips for Holiday Shopping with Children with ADHD


    Taking Charge of the Holidays


    Handling Stress During the Holidays: 20 Tips

Published On: November 24, 2013