7 Tips to Survive the Holiday Shopping Crush (and Stay Totally Sane)

By Perrie Samotin, StyleCaster

presentsNot to completely freak everyone out, but Christmas is about a month away, and Hanukkah merely days away, which means it's time to start thinking about-what else?-gifts. For a time of year when joy is supposed to abound, holiday shopping can seem, well, pretty joyless. In order to survive the crush (and stay totally sane), we've rounded 7 useful holiday shopping tips. Go forth, brave shopper!

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1. Get big-ticket items out of the way first.
If you know that you're planning to buy some big-ticket items-a watch, a nice bag, electronics, a car (hey, you never know)-make them the very first things you purchase. That way, you'll not only have them at the ready, but you'll be able to budget better for the smaller presents you plan to give.

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2. Hit the stores on a schedule-and with a game plan.
Like any good shopper knows, the very best times to shop crowded stores are on weekdays right when they open, and right before they close-steer clear of the lunch-break rush, and the 6 p.m. rush-hour mob. That said, don't head to the store and wander aimlessly looking for that perfect gift to jump out at you-that never works. Instead, have a solid game plan and head for the things you know you're going to buy.

3. Avoid online shipping fees.
If you're shopping for gifts online, be aware that an increasing number of retailers-Best Buy and Target among them-are smartly giving shoppers the option of ordering online and picking up items in-store. This not only eliminates pesky shipping fees, but it also makes life easier if you simply can't get to the store until a certain time.

4. Stumped on what to give? Try using gift finding technology
If you're really stuck on what to give a certain someone, there are a number of tools to help you figure it out, or at least give you some general ideas Below, a few to try:
Gifts.com gift finder (this tool allows you to answer questions about who you're shopping for, and gift suggestions are generated.)
Gift Plan: This app allows you to store size, taste, and other details about people on your list, as well as keep an organized shopping list.

5. Consider subscription services
Subscription services are having a serious moment right now, and they make for a super-fun gift that really does keep on giving. Apart from the usual suspects (wine of the month, cheese of the month), there's now cool DIY fashion subscriptions, lingerie subscriptions, and services targeted toward pregnant women. See other subscription ideas here!

6. Don't be afraid of gift cards
Honestly, who doesn't like to shop? You might think gift cards are totally snoozy, but think about it: Would you think it's boring to receive an already-paid gift card to your favorte store?

7. DIY the extras
Even a small gift looks impeccably thoughtful when it's wrapped with care. Instead of grabbing store-bought wrapping paper, why not make your own? For beginners, try splatter-painting plain paper, or create something super-fun like pom pom wrapping.

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