Smart shoppers know that it is never too early to start shopping for Christmas presents if you want to save money. There are ways to save a lot of money regardless of the time of year, but earlier is better. Having time before Christmas lets you order online, find bargains and get your shopping done without the expense of last minute purchasing.

The Internet gives you a great way to really find those online Christmas shopping bargains. Of course, you must pay attention to the calendar if you do any Internet shopping for Christmas presents. The time it takes to receive your purchases must be considered. The closer to December 25, the more likely you will have to pay for expedited shipping. You could also experience shipping troubles. Your online presents won't be much good if you don't get them in time. If you are forced to spend extra money on overnight couriers, any savings you hoped to get would evaporate. No, a value Christmas shopper using the Internet for purchases will likely not order online after about the first week in November. Risk goes up every day afterwards.

Organized shoppers who buy online early enough, can really save money. The best strategy is to identify the people that you intend to purchase for. For example, you might have people that fit into one of these categories:
- spouse
- adult children
- young children or grandchildren
- close family members
- distant family members
- close friends
- friends
- others

Shopping for Christmas presents online gives you the opportunity to maximize your savings easily. Looking at the above categories, perhaps you can do some grouping and order multiples of a good value. For example, maybe you see something nice and practical at a good price. You can order 5 of them online and distribute them to close family members and close friends. Similarly, maybe you find a bargain on a good bottle of wine. You can buy a case and give them to friends and other associates. You will likely get a case discount, saving you money.

These days, the competition is stronger than ever in the online market. Businesses have cut margins as far as they can in order to offer the best possible price. You want good prices, obviously, but you should also look for free shipping from the online merchants that you use. The reason is simple, they can get a bulk deal on shipping and pass this on to their customers. At the very least, the shipping costs you pay should not be excessive. A lot of online merchants, like Amazon, offer free shipping if your order is above a certain amount, say $30. Keep that in mind and make your order big enough to qualify. It's usually pretty easy to find enough good deals from a merchant anyway.

Another thing to watch for is handling charges. These can quickly eat up your savings. Some online merchants offer reasonable shipping fees but then they apply a handling cost per item. In the worst case, the handling fee is dependent on the cost of the item. These merchants really should be avoided, in most cases. As an online shopper, however, you can understand certain instances where handling fees are reasonable. Some really bulky items, such as heavy automotive equipment, may incur a special handling or crating charge. There really isn't anything wrong with this practice. In fact, it can save you money as well. If the merchant didn't levy a handling charge for these items, they would have to distribute their costs to every one of their other products. As long as the special charge applies to exceptional items and it is reasonable, the merchant is helping out their customers.

EBay merchants offer a great place to buy Christmas gifts online. There are a lot of products that you can find. The eBay search screens help you to organize the auction site. If you do shop on eBay, you should check your prices elsewhere as well. In many cases, especially with active auctions, the final price can be more than you would pay locally. Be sure, too, to check the shipping and handling charges on eBay. Unfortunately, you are not likely to find free shipping for your Christmas presents when you buy them from an eBay merchant. Depending on the size of the merchant, there may be a delay between the day you buy and the day your item is shipped. Allowing ample lead time is important when buying Christmas presents on eBay. You should be wary of buying Christmas presents off eBay after October 31.

Some of the online merchants offer you the ability to establish shipping addresses of your gift recipients. This service can save you a lot of time and trouble. Merchants offer catalogues of items for your consideration. You find the items that you want and you record the recipient's address with each one. The company handles the shipping for you. You may even get the opportunity to have a personalized card included with each of the shipments. As with other online merchants, check around. They may even offer this distribution of gifts for free.

Pay attention to the location of the online merchant. While it is often a great idea to order directly from overseas suppliers, there can be significant shipping times involved. Make sure that such merchants are clear with their shipping policies. If they don't post the expected delivery times to your address, be sure to ask them. There can be risk involved with shipments of Christmas presents from overseas, but it can really pay off as well.

Careful planning is the key for online Christmas shoppers. Most important is the ability to get the Christmas shopping done early. Watch the shipping, handling and other charges. Know what the prices are locally. When you see good deals, act quickly to confirm your order. When you are prepared, you have economic power. Order online where it makes sense and buy locally where local prices are comparable. In fact when you know the total costs of online shopping, you can judge when paying a premium for local items is acceptable. Be informed and you will be ready to save money on Christmas shopping.