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The Top 15 Holiday Shopping Tips To Stay Sane This Season

Like it or not, Halloween marks the beginning of holiday shopping season. I went and bought holiday-scented soap; now everyone in my house knows the holidays are coming because their hands smell like candy canes!

I love the holidays, and I’m not sad that they seem to be two months long. I don’t need an excuse to spend time with my friends and family, but I’ll happily take the holidays as one. I love how busy everyone gets, and I love how cities dress themselves up in twinkling lights.

One drawback is that I don’t love shopping any time of the year … holidays included. I know I can’t be the only one, so I collected my top 15 holiday shopping tips. Follow these, and stay sane, my friends! If these don’t work, then pour yourself a glass of mulled wine and sit quietly by the fire. That’ll do the trick.

  • Top 15 Holiday Shopping Tips 1 of 16
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  • 1. Shop early 2 of 16
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    If you shop this month, you'll save yourself a lot of stress. The closer we get to Christmas, the more packed every retail establishment will be.

     

    Image by shebaduhkitty

  • 2. Don’t shop on Thanksgiving 3 of 16
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    Make a statement: vote with your pocketbook, and do not go shopping on Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a time to be with family. Save your shopping for the next day.

  • 3. Set spending limits and do not break them 4 of 16
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    Give yourself a budget for "total holiday expenditures" and do not exceed it. Keep track when you buy someone something and deduct that from your total holiday spending.

     

    Image by cohdra

  • 4. Wrap presents immediately after getting home 5 of 16
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    This is a psychological trick. If you wrap presents and put nametags on them after you get home, that person is officially "done" and you stop thinking about ways to supplement their gift.

     

    Image by cohdra

  • 5. Don’t be tempted to buy something just to buy something 6 of 16
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    Retailers are fantastic this time of year at making everything look irresistible. Ignore them! My weakness is all the cool stuff at Starbucks. But I definitely do not need another Christmas mug, nor does anyone else on my list. And if they do, there are MUCH cheaper options!

     

    Image via Wikimedia

  • 6. Make a list and check it twice 7 of 16
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    List everyone who is getting a gift. Do not veer off this list. Do not add to the list simply because you see something that will make a distant coworker smile. Keep it in check.

     

    Image by jdurham

  • 7. Research online 8 of 16
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    Once you have your list, you can start to think about the right present for the right person. That way, you can get a feel for how much money to ballpark when you're out shopping downtown. If you don't find anything when you're out and about in person, you can head back to the Internet and find the right gift.

     

    Image by wax115

  • 8. Don’t forget about small businesses 9 of 16
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    Small Business Saturday is a promotion by American Express that encourages shoppers to visit small, local shops. I'd argue that we should be shopping small before we go anywhere else! Our retail dollars matter so much more to the person who has one shop in our neighborhood than they do to the mega stores with distribution centers all over the country.  

     

    Image by FrugalPortland

  • 9. Black Friday might be okay 10 of 16
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    It's not my thing, but that could be because I like to be a sloth the day after cooking and eating all of my favorite foods. But I know that there are deals to be had at 4 in the morning. Check your circulars, see if anything on mega discount is something already on your list. Then, get some coffee and go if you want. I'll be back at home, keeping the couch warm.

     

    Image: Black Friday at the Apple Store in New York City via Wikimedia

  • 10. Cyber Monday is better! 11 of 16
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    What do you want to do after a long weekend with family? Shop online from your desk at work, it seems. Cyber Monday is a huge day for online retailers, and some offer unbelievable deals. Again, though, only buy things on your list! Now's not the time to buy yourself a new pair of anything.

     

    Image by seabreeze

  • 11. Eliminate the $10 Gift and DIY instead 12 of 16
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    You know the people on your list that get something generic? Your kids' teachers or the person at work who signs for packages. They don't need your $10 gift, trust me. Instead, make something for them. You can find a list of homemade Christmas gifts here.

     

    Image by jdurham

  • 12. Secret Santa 13 of 16
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    If you have a large family, do a Secret Santa instead of trying to buy gifts for everyone. You can swap families or individuals. That way, your list gets shorter and you can buy things everyone wants instead of things you can afford.

     

    Image via Wikimedia

  • 13. Don’t be afraid to regift 14 of 16
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    This is a touchy subject (seriously!) so if you have strong feelings against it, skip it. But if you got a gift you're not going to use, you can easily give it to someone else. Be careful to keep the circles completely separate, though, and don't tell someone it was a regift.

     

    Image by cohdra

  • 14. When in doubt, a gift card trumps cash 15 of 16
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    If you end up with someone on  your list who is impossible to shop for (and there's one in every crowd!), go with a gift card. A gift card is better than cash because it at least forces them to spend the money on something instead of absorbing cash into their monthly allotment. But be careful here. Once I gave a Mormon friend a gift card to Starbucks. He was able to use it for hot chocolate, but it's not the most thoughtful place to get a gift card for someone who doesn't drink coffee.

     

    Image by idahoeditor

  • 15. Save money on gift cards 16 of 16
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    Companies offer incentives this time of year. "Buy a $20 gift card and get a $5 one for yourself!" If you can't find one, there's always the secondary gift card market, where people who got gift cards to places they can't go sell them at a discount. 

     

    Image via Wikimedia

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