Every year you swear you will get your holiday shopping finished in August so that you will not have to worry about it. While everyone else is fighting the crowds on Black Friday or panicking as the store shelves empty out, you vow that you will be done and relaxing. Flash forward to Thanksgiving dinner when you are busy going over your list, checking it twice so you can cross of the people who angered you the most throughout the year. Yes, you are going to get up at four am so that you can scratch, claw and fight your way through the crowds in the malls. So much for your well laid plans. There are ways to get all of your holiday shopping without spending more than you need to and without having to camp out in shop parking lots to get the best deals. 

Make a list and check it twice 
You do not have to buy an extravagant gift for every single person that you have ever interacted with. If you can limit some of the people on your gift list do so: consider
  • Family gifts for friends and neighbors instead of individual gifts. Fruit or nut baskets are always a good choice; a holiday planter is also a good choice. 
  • Gift certificates for older teens and distant relatives are better than trying to figure out what they want/need. Small denomination gift certificates are also good for the paper boy, children’s teachers and others that you want to give a small gift to. 
  • Set a price limit with your spouse and older siblings and then stick with it. 
Know what you are aiming to buy and then research prices 
Before you head out to the malls, shops or boutiques, make a list of the top three items that you are going to get for each person. Try to divide the list so that you are not trying to do all of the shopping in one frenzied trip. Start at the top of the list and then work your way down: spouse and immediate family and then friends and neighbors. Write down gift number one, two and three, research your prices and then list where you will be going for each of them. Consider online sources (more about that in the following section) but only if the price plus shipping and handling is lower and there is a guarantee that you will get it before the holidays arrive. A bargain gift is not a bargain if it costs tears and a broken heart on Christmas morning. 

Online resources 
Shopping online is safe, easy and convenient; however there are several things you have to consider. 
  • You have to figure out the cost of shipping and handling as well as state taxes before you can consider whether or not it is actually a bargain. 
  • Make sure that the item will arrive on time or it will not be worth it in the long run. 
  • Make sure that you are dealing with a secure site before you buy. The site should list its safety measures on its home page. 

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