If you leave your holiday season shopping until the week before the gift giving begins, you’ll often find yourself spending more, and failing to find sold-out items. However, smart and savvy holiday shoppers don't find themselves in this annual predicament. That's because they shop early.
Instead of saving holiday shopping for the last minute, get in the habit of doing the following:
Shop all year long. If you have a long list of people to whom you must give holiday gifts, waiting until a few days before the holidays to buy them can be overwhelming. For this reason, it's good to have these people in mind any time you're shopping. If you spot a beautiful green shirt that your Aunt Annie would love while doing back to school shopping, buy it for her.
Take advantage of sales. There are several big sales during the year that allow you to cross names off your holiday shopping list. These sales can come as early as the day after Christmas and President's Day. You can save money on holiday shopping by purchasing these gifts on sale and storing the items in your basement or the back of your closet until they need to be wrapped. Don't ignore Black Friday, which is the day after Thanksgiving. This retail holiday allows for some great bargains. While you'll have to make your way through the crowded stores, the bonus can be a big cost savings.
Ask your children to keep a wish list. If your children make a wish list for gifts, don't request it two weeks before the holidays begin. Instead, ask them to keep it all year long. This way, you can check it periodically, and buy one or two items each month or every other month. This also allows you to budget for your holiday shopping bill.
Shop online. Online shopping saves time because you don’t have to trek to the stores during the busiest shopping times of the year. It avoids wasting time searching for a parking spot at a crowded mall, and waiting on long lines for a cashier to ring up your purchases. Save money by watching for free shipping offers for holiday shopping from your favorite online retailers. Often, big toy companies will offer free shipping a few weeks or months before the holidays begin, so it's wise to subscribe to online mailing lists.
Buy in bulk. When you find a great gift, don't just give it to one person. If you have five aunts on your holiday shopping list, streamline your efforts by buying the same gift for each one of them, such as a scarf in different colors. And if you find a hot toy on sale -- such as the newest plush doll that will make a great gift for the three girls on your holiday shopping list -- buy three. Just use your good judgement if you decide to give the same gift to siblings or relatives who will be opening their presents at the same party!