1. Start early
This is the most helpful, yet least followed suggestion. Unless you are purchasing a holiday specific gift set or product that will not be released until just before the holidays, you can start your shopping as early as you want! I find this to be the most efficient way to be prepared, save the most money, and reduce the stress of holiday shopping. This also is true for homemade gifts. Even if the gift itself will not take long to make, popular supplies will sell out quickly as others prepare to make gifts as well.
Make lists of who you need to shop for, what you need to buy, and where you need to get it. Check out our holiday gift guide for some great ideas! Also look ahead of time at ads to price match and for coupons to save some money. Your gift recipient never has to know ;-)
3. Map out a route
I know this sounds silly but map out your shopping route. Make sure you know where each store is located. Tackle one shopping center at a time. The holiday shopping time is well known for being busy and with more accidents, even when the weather is clear. When looking for a store, make sure to stay a safe distance behind the next vehicle so they don’t surprise you with a sudden stop. An accident, no matter how minor, will cause you more lost time than heading to the next stop light and going back to your missed turn.
4. Shop online
If you know what you are looking for, many products are available on the retailer or store website with affordable or even free shipping rates during the holidays. You never know, you may even find a better deal or a gift that wasn’t available in store!
5. Have back up gift ideas
Unfortunately stores may sell out of that new toy everyone is talking about, so make sure to have a back up gift idea for the inevitable.
So these are just a few rules that I follow from year to year. What is your biggest stress-reducing Christmas shopping tip?