Make a list and a budget
If you’ve made a list of gifts to buy, you’ll have a good idea of how much money you’ll spend in total, although you still need to plan for unforeseen purchases and price variations!
If you’re a very organized person, you already have the expected amount in your bank account and will be able to pay cash for everything. Otherwise, you might wince at the list... In this case, calculate the amount that you know you can realistically spend on gifts without affecting your family’s current expenses. This amount is your Christmas budget. Avoid putting impulse purchases on a credit card that you know you won’t be able to pay for a long time. It is always possible to make good buys without spending a fortune.
Plan with the Internet
Instead of going on a long and exhausting tour of the stores, do some screen shopping! Almost all stores have a website, some of them even allowing you to check an item’s availability in a store near you. It’s a very practical way to save some time and avoid going across town to find a specific gift. And you can shop whenever you want, night and day! Every woman’s dream!
Visit many websites, take notes, compare and add pages to your “Favourites” bookmark to give yourself some time to think about it. Your purchase will be well thought-over and even more appreciated, especially since you'll probably have saved time and money!
If you live far from larger shopping centres or simply don’t like the Christmas shopping craziness, buy online! Stick with well-known brands, such as Target, Sears, Future Shop, Chapters, Amazon, ToysRus, etc. and get information about their delivery fees, deadlines for the holiday season, return policies, etc.
Look for deals!
In recent years, Christmas deals start several weeks before Christmas. Businesses compete to attract us with more and more deals. For once, keep store flyers instead of recycling them and compare items in the stores’ printed and electronic publications. Some articles are sometimes at a 50 % discount to attract customers. It’s up to you to take advantage of these great offers, without buying too much of course!
As for online shopping, ask about the refund and exchange policies. If you buy an item in November, will it be exchangeable or refundable at the end of December or in January?
Beware of gift cards
You might think that you’ll please someone by giving him/her carte blanche, but there is increasing evidence that gift cards are not used by many, and therefore that the gift is never "consumed". In this case, it is often better to give money directly instead of a gift card. Furthermore, check for early expiration date, the absence of a branch in the immediate environment of the person who received the card, etc.
Choose your battles!
Shopping in the middle of the Holidays is exhausting! On the weekends and some weeknights, malls are so packed that we get discouraged before we even complete our purchases. If you can, try to go shopping at the beginning of the week. Monday and Tuesday nights are ideal to shop in relative peace! Otherwise, go early in the day on the weekends, which should give you enough time to do your shopping before the stores are full of customers. Avoid dressing too warmly, drop your coat in a mall locker, take a coffee break to rest a little, do whatever it takes to make your outing fun and not painful.