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Six Weeks and Six Tips to Get Your Holiday Shopping Organized and Done

It's November 9th and you still have plenty of time to get your holiday shopping done and enjoy all that the season has to offer. I realize there are folks who start their Christmas shopping for the following year the day after Christmas. I also realize that there are those people, like my husband, who do all of their shopping on Christmas Eve. I lie somewhere in the middle. I might do a little bit throughout the year, but I prefer to do most, if not all of my shopping after Halloween. I enjoy shopping when the stores are decorated and Christmas music is playing - it puts me in the spirit.

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If you haven't started shopping, here are six tips to get you going and done in no time.

1.) Make Your List and Check it Twice

Make a list of all the people you typically purchase Christmas presents for. Think of everyone starting with your closest family and friends and continue adding. Don't forget people like teachers, cleaning services, newspaper delivery and others who help you throughout the year. Now is the time to brainstorm every potential gift, so you're not caught off guard a week before Christmas and you have a million other things to do.

Here are some helpful tips and applications for getting organized for Christmas. And if you are unsure who to tip and how much, check out this handy guide.

2.) Trim Your List, if Possible

Take a good long look at your list and dispose of all the naughty people in your life. I'm just kidding! Actually, you need to take a look at your list and see if it's realistic. Have you been totally stressed out previous years with a tremendous amount of shopping? Are you going into serious debt by trying to get too much for too many people? Are there people on your list who you don't really see or keep in touch with throughout the year? Nobody wants to be scrooge this time of year but it's important to stay withing your own means in terms of time and money.

And keep in mind that if you need to cut a few people from your Christmas list, you can always get them a gift for their birthday or other occasion. Just because they are no longer on your Christmas list, doesn't mean you can't give them a gift or take them to lunch at another time. I had a friend call me up before the holidays and ask me if it was ok to not exchange presents that year since their budget was really tight. I appreciated her honesty and it was a relief to have one less gift to shop for. Sometimes a quick phone call can save a lot of undue stress.

3.) Naughty or Nice? Budget

If you haven't already done this, it's time to crunch some numbers. Only you know how much you have to spend for the holidays. Since you have your list of everyone you need to shop for, you can determine how to allocate those funds (there's a phrase I never use, but I feel all budgety and money-wise typing "allocate those funds"). How much can you spend on each person? Write the dollar amount next to each person on your list. I'll admit that I'm no budgeting guru, but planning how much you will spend will save you misery and time later. It will also help you pick out gifts, since you know exactly how much you can spend on someone. You'll stay away from pricey items when shopping for the people who you can only spend $10 on.

Simple Mom always has tons of great advice, and this is a very helpful budgeting article.

4.) Virtual Shopping First

Armed with your list and your budget, you can start deciding what to get each person. Can you get it online? Would they like (or prefer) a gift card? Tackle all the gifts you know right away and do it online or from catalogs, which will obviously save you a lot of running around. You'll also save a lot of money since you can choose the slowest and cheapest shipping method. It's still early enough to look around. Be creative and take your time finding some special gifts. Sites like Giftbee allow you to search for your gift various ways including traits of the recipient like, "always cold."

5.) Hit the Stores

Before you hit the stores, know what you are purchasing and where you're going to buy it. I'm always awestruck at the number of people who decide to wander a crowded mall aimlessly during the holidays hoping for gift inspiration. I'm pretty sure it's just going to lead to frustration and sore feet. Make a plan, take your list and get it done.

Also, it's a really good idea to go shopping on a Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon during the holidays. I discovered this gem when I was a stay at home mom. The stores and parking lots are pretty empty on these days. So I try to arrange my schedule during the holidays so I don't HAVE to go near a mall on a weeknight or worse yet, the weekend.

Good luck and Happy Holidays!

P.S. Be sure to save your list and your budget. It will save you time next year!

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Posted in Home Improvement Post Date 12/23/2016