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Let’s face it: Very few of us enjoy holiday shopping. Crowded malls, rude sales clerks, and pushy shoppers make it very hard to find pleasure in heading out to find the gifts for all of your loved ones. You can make it a lot easier on yourself (and your wallet) this year by following these holiday shopping tips and tricks.

Stick to Your Budget

Going into the holiday season without a budget is mistake number one, and that’s how we can quickly dig ourselves into Christmas debt that will make the New Year harder than it needs to be. Include money for presents, food, travel, and any other Christmas necessities. Make a list of the people you need to buy gifts for, and put a maximum budget next to each name. Once you have these estimates, it will be easier for you to brainstorm gift ideas that won’t deplete your wallet. It will also put you on the lookout for coupons, and awareness of our limits is sometimes all we need to avoid costly mistakes.

Online Shopping is Your Friend

Get your Christmas presents online and save yourself the struggle of fighting against angry crowds, impossible parking structures, and irritable retail workers this holiday season. Many online websites offer awesome gift finders, and your items can be sent to the destination of your choice. That means you won’t have to worry about traveling with bulky presents—your gifts might even make it to your travel destination before you do.

Shop for Presents Early

The early bird really does get the worm, and this phrase is definitely true during the Christmas season. Waiting until the last minute means less selection and less likelihood that you’ll receive all of your purchases in time for the big day. Start early and thank yourself later, because you won’t believe the amount of stress it takes off of your shoulders. Many companies offer Black Friday deals online after the Thanksgiving holiday, so you can shop from the comfort of your couch and still get your presents in time. There are also Cyber Monday deals to take advantage of on the following—you guessed it—Monday. Doing something early has never felt so good. (At this point, you’ll have to remember this tip for 2016!)

Get Grocery Basics Ahead of Time

If you’re in charge of hosting any Christmas events this year and you are planning an intricate menu, head out to the grocery store today and grab all the sustainable basics you can. This will mean a smaller list when the big day actually arrives—less time in the grocery store, because all you will need is the fresh items required for your recipes. If you just need fresh veggies and fruits, you can also order a delivery from a company like Farm Fresh to You, who will deliver a box of delicious produce right to your front door. The best part is their deliveries always include seasonal offerings, so you know you’re getting the most natural offerings in their prime.

Use Coupon Apps

You can easily save money by using some well-designed coupon apps. Some of my favorites include Retailmenot.com, Target’s personal coupon app called Cartwheel (a lifesaver when you’re wandering around that huge store) and Groupon.

Make Homemade Gifts

If you want to avoid shopping completely, make this the year of the homemade gift in your family. Whether it’s delicious, fresh out of the oven cookies, baked banana bread, or even a jar of your very own pickles, homemade food items make thoughtful and inexpensive gifts that are appropriate for any relationship and recipients of any age. You can encourage family members to join in on this idea, so there will be no lingering guilt about not being able to spend as much.

In Case of Last-Minute Shopping

If you’re here looking for some last-minute gift advice, I haven’t left you out! You may be in luck, because multiple online outlets may offer free holiday shopping closer to the big day. Companies that have offered this service in the past include LL Bean and Best Buy. Definitely do your online research and find out who might be your shopping savior this month to get those Christmas presents to your door just in time.

 

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