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Holiday Shopping Made Simple

November 8th, 2007

holiday-shopping.jpgThe traditional holiday season, which has become a period of particularly rampant consumerism for many Americans, can turn into a time management challenge as well. This article by Leigh Zaykoski examines some strategies that can make holiday shopping easier and less stressful.

Shopping for holiday gifts can be one of the most stressful times of the year. The stores are crowded, money may be tight, and you have a list of twenty people to buy gifts for. You could just buy them gift certificates and let them pick out their own gifts, but you feel that’s too impersonal. You really want to get each person something they’ll love and cherish so you can make everyone’s holiday special. You’ve resigned yourself to the fact that you’ll need to shop for these gifts, but dread facing the crowded malls and long checkout lines. If you follow these tips, you can simplify your holiday shopping and turn it into a less stressful experience.

Make a List

This seems like a simple piece of advice, but many people get so caught up in what needs to be done for the holidays that they don’t think about sitting down and making a list of people to buy gifts for. If you go to the store without a list of people to shop for, you run the risk of forgetting someone and having to run back to the stores at the last minute to buy that person a gift. Make your list when you have some quiet time to yourself to think about each person in your life. Remember to include family members, friends, and any coworkers you would like to buy gifts for. If you are participating in a Secret Santa program, be sure to include the person you picked on your shopping list.

Develop a List of Potential Gifts

Once you have a list of people in hand, you can spend time thinking about their likes and dislikes and even picking out potential gifts. If your friend Jane has allergies, perfume and other fragrance products probably aren’t the best choice. Is your mom a dog lover? Pet-themed merchandise may make a great gift. If you start your shopping armed with a good idea of what each person would like, you’ll save yourself from wondering aimlessly through the mall and waiting for a great gift idea to jump out at you.

Learn the Best Times to Shop

If you want to beat the crowds, you need to find out when you have the best chance of being able to shop without many people crowding the aisles. Some stores open early in the morning but don’t have many customers until a later time. Other stores stay open later during the holiday season so you can shop peacefully during the night and save yourself from having to battle your way through an overcrowded store. If you learn the best times to shop at each store you will be visiting, you can save yourself a ton of hassles and waiting time.

Stay on Top of Sales

Sales abound during the holiday season, but many of them are limited to certain products or a certain day of the week. Check your local newspaper and pay attention to television ads announcing sales taking place in your area. If you can get to one or two sales, you may be able to save yourself big bucks.

Try Shopping Online

Online shopping can be the answer to your budget woes AND the perfect way to choose gifts without setting foot outside your door. If you want to buy someone a book, try a discount bookstore online. You may be able to save as much as 20% off the retail price of the book you choose. If you’re on a really tight budget, using online auction sites to find brand name merchandise at a discounted price can easily save you hundreds of dollars if you have a significant number of people on your shopping list.

If you use these tips to stay within your budget and take some of the hassle out of your holiday shopping, you’ll be sure to enjoy the comfort and joy of the holiday season.

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