The month of November has just begun, but department stores all over the country are already preparing for the holiday shopping season. Holiday shoppers are starting early to take advantage of pre-season discounts, and the pressure to find the perfect gift is bearing down on consumers. Shopping early is one way to find great deals and save money—and in this economy, most consumers could use all the savings they can get. Start with a plan to make your holiday shopping experience quick, painless, and affordable.
Go with what you know
Shopping for friends and family can feel like a chore, especially around the holidays. But most people are creatures of habit—hobbies like cooking or sports; or pastimes like reading, can make choosing gifts less time-consuming. For those people in your life, shopping should be easy: find something affordable that will allow them to pursue their hobbies. And if you’re stuck, websites like Gifts.com’s Personality Profiler allow you to plug in information about your gift recipient and find gift ideas based on their personalities, making shopping fast and fun.
It’s hard to go wrong with a well-chosen piece of jewelry for a holiday gift—but most holiday shoppers have less to spend than in previous years. Many jewelry stores are offering items at $100 or less for shoppers who want to give inexpensive, but dazzling trinkets to their loved ones. Instead of going to a brick-and-mortar store, try shopping online first for deals; with so many stores offering free shipping, shopping for jewelry online can be a great way to avoid the shopping season crowds.
Smarter gift cards
Gift cards can be the perfect gift for people with eclectic taste, or for teens and younger adults who want to shop for themselves. But gift cards have also gotten a bad rap over the past few years; and while there are laws that no longer allow hidden fees and short expiration dates, many merchants still attach usage and inactivity fees to their gift cards. To avoid fees, do a little shopping before you settle on a card, reading the usage policies and rules. Department stores like Target and Macy’s offer cards with little or no fees, and no expiration dates—and online merchants like Amazon offer electronic gift cards that can be used anywhere on their site. Giving electronic gift cards also reduces the risk of the card being lost or stolen.
Holiday shopping doesn’t have to be the same headache every year. Shoppers who get a head start on deals, search for gifts that fit their recipients’ tastes, and try new options for gifting can make their holiday shopping seasons a little shorter and easier. And if your gifts get rave reviews this year, you’ll get ideas for next year as well.
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