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Ho-Ho-No-No: Dealing With The Dilemma Of Holiday Shopping

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Most of us look forward to the holidays, yet most of us dread the holiday shopping rush and all that accompanies it, such as rude sales staff, long lineups and the frustration of finding the perfect gift.

Yet, experts suggest that if you’re strategic about shopping you can actually have a “stress-free” and “hassle-free” holiday.

1. Peruse the Net for purchases: Don’t feel like pushing through a crowded mall after you’ve fought for a parking space? How about beating the crowds and the deadline by shopping online. After all you’re likely to find just what you’re looking for with a touch of a button. And, most of your favorite stores also have online services and frequently some very nice online discounts, specials, and incentives.

2. Make a list and check it twice: Rather than window shopping and hoping to find something you and the person you are buying for will like, in just the right size, and for just the right price, experts suggest having a shopping strategy in place. They recommend what you want to buy, how much you want to spend, and the stores you anticipate visiting for your purchases. And, they note, that its also a good idea to have a contingency list as a backup. Stumped for ideas? Ask around or open up a catalog or two for inspiration.

3. The early bird catches the worm…and the best buys: Rather than wait for the weekend, when malls are likely overcrowded and swarming with other shoppers, try to get your shopping done during the week. Better yet, get a jump start by going during the day, while others are working, and get there a few minutes before the stores unlock their doors and open up their gates. It’s the best way to avoid long lines, fatigued employees, and missing out on that perfect bargain or buy.

4. Single yourself out: Sure it’s great to get together with mom, sis or the girls, but it’s also likely you’ll waste more time and get less done that way. If you DON’T have time to spare and you’re on a marathon shopping spree, it’s best to brave it alone.

5. Go the extra mile: If during your travels you notice one or two (practical) items that make great gender neutral gifts for unexpected guests, co-workers who present you with an unexpected present, etc. pick it up and have it wrapped and ready to go. Think wine, quality chocolates, movie theatre tickets, just in case.

6. Call in reinforcements: If you find yourself overwhelmed and unable to find everything you need, especially for your mate’s side of the family, don’t hesitate to ask for help. After all you spouse is likely to know his (or her) family better than you do and will better be able to pick something out for them more quickly and efficiently. Plus, with the two of you working together, it’s likely you’ll accomplish you goal in half the time.

Finally, remember that shopping can be a “sport” and should be fun. So, give yourself plenty of time, take a deep breath, and enjoy the experience.

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