It's that time of year again! Well, just about. We all know it would be a fantastic idea to get our shopping done early, but where do we even begin? No matter who you are, or how you celebrate, if you have someone you'd like to buy gifts for, it's best to plan ahead and get it done as early as possible so you can actually sit back and enjoy this holiday season. Here are my top 10 handy tips to help you out during this oftentimes stressful time of the year.

Make A To-do List

Writing a list is probably one of the easiest things you can do to get things moving. This list can consist of people you need to buy for, or items you already know that need to be purchased. This list can consist of anything! Whatever works best for you. Fact of the matter is, it's always best to stay as organized as possible. Personally, I find that a list is an easy way to feel like you're actually accomplishing something, without even leaving the comfort of the couch. You might be surprised how motivational a planned out to-do list can be. Once a detailed list is completely, there's nothing left to do but execute the plan!

Figure Out The Spending Budget

How much do you actually plan to spend on your family, co-workers, and friends? Figuring out exactly how much money you can spend is the first step towards figuring out how much you would like to spend on each individual. Christmas can be an extremely pricey time of year. Everyone knows this.  Nobody wants to experience that financial hangover in January.
If the opportunity is there, and you're worried about your spending, it might be a good idea to pitch in on some group gifts. You'll not only save a little dough with the price being split between multiple individuals, but there's a good chance you'll end up with a more expensive gift in the end. Yup, that's a win/win scenario right there.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For Sales

I'll admit, this one should be obvious. However, the sooner your start your shopping, the more sales that you'll be able to take full advantage of. Amazon has already begun their early bird Christmas shopping sales and there's no time like the present to jump to it. You'll also notice that their website gives free shipping on “nearly everything”, according to their website. 

Get Started On Your Home-made Gifts

Whether you're doing your Christmas shopping on a budget, or simply want to get crafty with your gifts, creating your own Christmas crafts is an excellent idea. Everyone appreciates the thoughtfulness of a hand crafted gift. It could be home-made tree ornaments, delicious desserts, custom designed Christmas cards, or fancy sewing creations. Any of these work quite well. Not only are these items guaranteed to be cheaper than purchased items, but they'll be even more loved by the recipient for the work you put into it!

Think About Backup Gifts

Just in case you forget anyone on your shopping list, it's always a great idea to pick up a few smaller items that might end up wrapped under the Christmas tree if the need arises. I mention this because I can remember a few particular holiday's where by Christmas Eve I realized that I purchased a couple too many gifts for one particular person. Not exactly keeping track, I guess. Afraid the other person might feel under appreciated, I'd wrap a box of chocolates (which I planned to eat myself shortly after Christmas) that I picked up a few weeks earlier. Was a perfect stocking stuffer. Of course, everyone loves extra chocolate and so the gift worked out just fine. You could buy candles, candies, or clothing. Anything works.

The Day That Shall Not Be Named 

That's right, Black Friday falls on November 29th this year. Personally, I suggest staying out of the stores to avoid being horribly trampled. Instead, I say do all your Black Friday purchases online.  The last couple years I've bought a few items from Amazon without even leaving the comfort (and safety) of my own home. You get to take full advantage of all those outstanding deals, while avoiding all the stress that can go with trying to shop in unruly crowds of shoppers.

Avoiding The Impulse Self Buy 

I'll set the scene that happens to many people, myself included on occasion; You go into your store of choice with the full intention to buy your kids some gifts. When you arrive home, not only did you somehow fail to bring home gifts for the kids, but you bought that new Blu-Ray movie you were eyeing. Since you clearly have access to the Internet, I think it's a much better idea to go to the website of your favourite shop and browse before heading out to pick something up. That way you'll have a good idea of what you're looking for, and will have a much better chance of actually returning with a gift to wrap.

Preemtive Window Shopping

As mentioned in the previous tip, it's best to go into the shopping season with a plethora of gift ideas already in your head. Plan ahead (that is what early Christmas shopping is all about!) by checking the web for local sales and gift ideas. It's one of the easiest things you can do before you leave home to shop.

It's also about this time of year where you start seeing those Christmas television commercials. Not to mention massive Christmas flyers in your mail box. Best to be prepared before heading out.

Shopping Early Means You'll Have More Gift Selection

The idea is that if you get your Christmas shopping out of the way early (or most of it at least), you'll be able to have a wider selection of items to pick from before things start selling out. If you wait too long, there's a chance that when you figure out that perfect gift idea, it'll be completely sold out.

Overjoyed Children

We all know it. Children around the age of 5 and under enjoy ripping open the wrapping paper more than playing with the actual item inside. They just toss it aside and reach for the next present. It's a terrific idea to buy a whole bunch of smaller items that they may appreciate a bit later on after the Christmas morning excitement has settled down.  You don't necissarily have to pick up these items earlier than you normally would, but I still think it's a useful tip to include.

Keep in mind that Christmas is always closer than you realize. It'll be upon you before you know it and it's good to get thinking about your gift purchasing (or gift making!) as early as possible to avoid any stress going into this busy season! Good luck and safe shopping!

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