Overwhelmed by the thought of the upcoming holiday shopping season? Take the stress out of holiday shopping by trying these simple tips and tricks to help you get organized. Organized shoppers are well-prepared, don't waste time, make their shopping trips count, start early and pace themselves. Sound too good to be true? Here's how you too can be an organized (and efficient) shopper this holiday season.
Make a master shopping list: There's something to be said about "making a list and checking it twice." Aimless shopping efforts waste time and money. Start by making a master list of people for who you plan to purchase gifts. Whether on the electronic device of your choice, or on a simple memo pad, having one detailed list is crucial. Many of us already have a Christmas card list including names and address that we reference from year to year. Why not do the same with your shopping list? Saving your master list over the years will help you remember who you purchased gifts for in previous years. Don't forget to include family, friends, teachers, office mates, mailmen, and anyone else you want to remember during the holidays. Next, jot down possible gift ideas for each gift recipient on your list keeping in mind approximately how much you are planning to spend per person. You may also wish to include helpful information such as clothing sizes (which should be updated each year, especially for children.) Find out what people want, and their sizes before you go out shopping. After you go shopping, immediately update your list by writing down items you have actually purchased, their cost and where you've hidden these precious gifts. This way you won't forget what you've already purchased, especially if you shop in advance. Check off gift recipients as soon as you have completed shopping for them. This way it will be easy to see who is still left on your list. You may also want to wrap a few gifts at a time so that you don't have a giant pile of wrapping at the last minute. Just indicate on your master list which gifts you have already wrapped.
Check store fliers: Be an informed and focused shopper. Enter stores with store fliers in hand so you can find items easily, ask for help and check accuracy of prices. Circle in marker on your flier or make a list of those items you wish to look at. Carry all coupons and store promo cards with you in a separate section or envelope in your purse/wallet throughout the holiday season so they will be available when you need them. You never know when you might find yourself shopping, and it is a shame to miss out on discounts because your coupons were left at home. Here's a time saving trick when shopping early in the season. Call ahead to see if items are in stock and ask them to be put on hold in your name at the front register, if possible. Not all stores will provide this courtesy, but it doesn't hurt to ask. This way you can zip in and out of stores within minutes. You must however be able to make it to the store within their standard hold time. Later in the season it is hard to get through on busy phone lines, so this trick does not work as well.
Know the best time to shop: Words of advice…shop early! Store promos start as early as October. Pace yourself by doing a little shopping each week rather than all at once. Let's face it, before the season officially starts there are less lines, more parking spaces, better selections, available sales associates, a much calmer atmosphere and many of the same great deals as later in the season. In addition, know which stores open early in the morning. If you are a morning person, you can beat the lines and save precious time. Likewise, take advantage of online stores which are open 24 hours and allow you to shop whenever it is convenient for you. Many online stores also have competitive promotions and offer free shipping. After all, If you complete your holiday shopping early, you will have more time for other holiday preparations such as holiday cards, wrapping, cleaning, cooking and more. See 7 Smart Reasons to Start Holiday Shopping Early.
Be an efficient shopper: Try your best to lump purchases together to reduce the amount of trips you make to any one store or shopping mall. Remember, park once and shop lots! Set aside "shopping time" so you can really take time to look around the entire store while consulting your master list. This way you can purchase as many gifts as possible in one location. Only get on line once you are sure you have considered everyone on your list. There is nothing more frustrating than having to go back to the same store and wait on the same long line multiple times. If you are shopping at a mall, make a list of all the stores that you plan on visiting. It is very easy to get overwhelmed and distracted in such large shopping areas.
Organize your purchases: Even if you are exhausted after a long day of shopping, take a few minutes to organize your purchases. You'll thank yourself later on! Staple gift receipts to tags or tape them to gifts before hiding them away, otherwise you will wind up bleary eyed trying to match endless sku numbers on the night before. Once gifts are wrapped, group them in large shopping bags according to gift recipients, families, or locations. This makes it easy to carry gifts on busy holiday mornings/evenings without searching for lost gifts. Once again, if you must hide gifts or shopping bags, keep a note on your master shopping list of their location since it is easy to forget things in all the holiday hustle and bustle.
Make use of gift cards. Last but not least, don't forget your many wonderful gift card options. Gift cards are actually a "gift of choice." People receive exactly what they want, plus gift cards help you get your shopping wrapped up in the blink of an eye. You can order them ahead of time, pick them up at the store, print them out, post them on Facebook or even email them on Christmas Day! They are terrific instant gifts!
Our top holiday gift card choice is Amazon.com Gift Cards. There's something for everyone big and small at Amazon from electronics, apparel, toys, tools, music & dvds, gifts for the home and more. With Amazon you don't need to worry about finding convenient store locations. The recipient will enjoy free shipping on their orders $25 or more. Best of all, there are no additional gift card fees like some other cards.
So take our advice… Being an organized and efficient shopper can save time, money and your sanity this holiday season. You can do it by following these simple, but effective holiday shopping secrets!
Happy Holiday Shopping!
For more holiday shopping tips, please see:
Little Ones "Twelve Weeks Before Christmas" Holiday Toy Series: This holiday series is designed to help parents and grandparents make smart choices by featuring outstanding/award winning "toys that teach," accompanied by reviews which highlight and explain the educational benefits and specific skills children receive from these types of toys.
Visit www.littleones.com for our selection of Great/Award Winning Children's Books, Little Ones Recommended Toys & Gifts, and Children's Educational DVDs along with teacher tips, parenting articles, family fun and much more!