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Top Tips for Easy Christmas Shopping

Shop till you drop is so totally 80s. You probably have little interest in a shopping marathon. Your time is precious, but finding the right Christmas gifts remains important to you.

Before you put off those stressful holiday shopping sprees and become a last-minute shopper, adopt a few tactics for savvy shopping as described below.

Skip the crushing crowds at the shopping malls – Weekends spent Christmas shopping at busy stores can burn out a lot of your holiday spirit. You can still visit these stores but just do it on weekdays before or after work. The stores will not be terribly busy during the day, and the weekday evenings, especially Tuesday and Wednesday, should only inflict modest crowds on you. Don’t be lured by the big weekend sales that the stores advertise. You will likely waste any possible savings burning gas circling in the parking lot for a space. During the holidays things are on sale on weekdays too, and you can get more help from salespeople.

Catalog shopping – If you have even dabbled with catalog retailers, then you likely receive some catalogs in the mail. Browsing catalogs in the comfort of your home allows for peaceful and thoughtful shopping that helps you stay on budget. Yes, looking at the big ticket items is fun, but no one will be pressuring you to buy. Catalog companies always have an online store, and once you make your selections from the catalog, you can easily go online and search by catalog number. This will take you immediately to the item you picked out where you can order it. Catalogs still include actual old fashioned mail order forms and toll free telephone ordering as well. Catalog shopping is convenient and fun, but the more you order from catalogs, the more catalogs you will get in the mail. This can become a problem, but catalog shopping still offers many appealing aspects that might hook you. For comfortable, no pressure shopping with often entertaining sales copy, you can’t beat catalog retailers.

Online shopping – Many retailers operate online in addition to their physical stores, and even more retailers operate exclusively online, most famously Amazon. Online shopping is tremendously convenient. With the aid of search engines you can seek almost any item you can think of. Browsing products in an online store is not quite as easy as browsing a paper catalog, but it is generally an adequate experience. Shopping online also allows you to look for deals by comparing prices. The majority of online retailers provide secure and pleasing shopping experiences, but you do have to be mindful of who you are placing an order from. At Amazon, for example, products can be stocked and sold by Amazon, but the company also allows any seller to list products, so you will want to pay attention to who you are actually ordering from. Amazon marketplace sellers, as they are called, can literally be anybody, but they do have feedback ratings that will help you judge their quality. As your holiday shopping deadlines approach, you will have to be particularly careful about knowing the shipping times guaranteed by any seller. The same advice applies to shopping on ebay, where anybody in the world can be a seller. Make sure to pay attention to a seller’s feedback rating before jumping in to make a purchase. Many excellent sellers operate on ebay, but, especially at the holidays, some very fly-by-night operations will be listing merchandise as well.

Both catalog shopping and online shopping offer busy people great advantages over wandering stores bustling with people and staffed by temps who know nothing. You don’t have to drive anywhere. You can shop on your schedule, be it 6 a.m. or 11 p.m. And catalog and online stores often offer gift wrapping and direct shipping to your gift recipients. These services are incredibly wonderful when you have people to shop for that live far away. You can have the gifts wrapped and shipped directly to them. Yes, these services will pad each item by $5 to $10, but the convenience is worth it when the alternative is spending 30 to 40 minutes in line at the post office.

Craft fairs and charity auctions – In the weeks and months leading up to Christmas, craft fairs and charity auctions are quite common. Buying Christmas gifts at these venues will allow you to find unique or special items and spend your money with local artisans or on a good cause. Attending such affairs is generally pleasurable too.

Publication and service subscriptions and memberships – They may not be a flashy gift that makes a big splash on Christmas day, but magazine and service or gift subscriptions give for a whole year. Examples other than magazine subscriptions are those flower or fruit baskets that are sent to the recipient every month or a subscription to Netflix or a health club membership. Giving a subscription is often greatly appreciated by the recipient, who may not have indulged in it otherwise.

With so many options, you don’t have to dread shopping for Christmas gifts. You can make it convenient and not have to suffer any crowds. So, set your budget, make a plan, and spend your valuable time having fun. 

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