Some people live to shop while others dread it. Regardless of where you fall, these 10 holiday shopping tips and secrets for doing it right will save you money and give you the best experience. 

Shop off hours and days

For the in person stores you must hit, save yourself hours and lots of frustration by going off-peak times. Save the small business and less crowded stores for the peak hours.

Get targeted, great gifts

In making your holiday list for everyone, note the hobbies and interests that each person has so you get something they will love. Compare to your lists from past years so you don’t get the same gift again. However, don’t be afraid to buy the same gift twice for two different people if it is something they will both love. Read more about great gift ideas for everyone on your list here.

Focus on Cyber Monday More than Black Friday

If you are choosing between Cyber Monday and Black Friday, Cyber Monday is the way to go. And keep in mind, retailers offer great deals in the days before and after Cyber Monday, so really what we are saying is to focus on online holiday shopping rather than Black Friday shopping. The deals are the same or better often, and you can cover more stores as you jump from website to website in seconds rather sitting in horrible holiday traffic as you crawl to the next store you want to hit across town. And who wants to wait in the cold in long lines and then deals horrific checkout lines as well.

As mentioned, “Cyber Monday” is really more like cyber week or even cyber month at most retailers, so there’s no need to rush as you shop from the comfort of your own home. But try to carve out a nice block of time for the official Cyber Monday day (the Monday following Thanksgiving) when deals are typically bigger.

Of course, you can also do both!

Tackle Black Friday Like a Proy

If you are planning to go to war on Black Friday, here are some great Black Friday shopping tips:

  • Develop a plan of attack   Know what time each store opens, and which “must-have” items are at each store.
  • Carry store ads with you. This comes in handy for price matching and for those seasonal clerks who aren’t as up to speed on the store deals as you
  • Get gift receipts.  You may very well need them later.
  • Look for coupons ahead of time.  Earlier coupons often have sneaky good deals that are different than those that stores promote on Black Friday
  • Compare prices online. If you find a better deal for specific product online and you only need one thing at a store, then save a visit to that particular store and buy online

Have a Solid List and Plan of Attack

It would be nice if we were able to shower our friends and family with unlimited expensive gifts, but the truth is that the majority of us have a limited amount of money. Before you even start your holiday shopping, make a gift list and set yourself a budget. That way you won’t fall prey to last minute splurge purchases.

Shop Alone

For some, spending time with friends is the main reason to shop, but if you need to do some serious holiday shopping and be productive and take your time to find the deals then shopping alone is the way to go. You will also be free of influence and from being influenced to buy things you don’t need as you stay focused on the good deals and best sales.

Shop for all Kinds of Gifts—Not Just Tangible Products

It’s not just about buying stuff—consider buying experiences and services. This includes weekend getaway packages or gift cards or subscriptions to service. For home gifts that are not products, consider maid services (or gift cards for them) and other home services that you can buy as a gift for home dwellers. Home Depot and Lowe’s gift cards are a hit.

Consider Buy Experiences–Not Just “Stuff”

Instead of buying material goods that your family members aren’t that excited about, consider buying a day or weekend trip that you can share together. It can make more sense to invest money in creating a family memory that will last forever than buying an item that will have a short life span.

Maximize Online Shopping Opportunities

Sign up for discounts and unsubscribe immediately after so you get the deal and avoid the spam mail.  Be sure to track price changes for expensive items so strike at the right time.

Also, if you plan to send the gift directly to the recipient, make sure to mark the item as a gift and write a personalized message during checkout.

Factor in Shipping Time for Online Shopping

Make sure you allow for unexpected shipping delays when you place your order. Try to order gifts as soon as you think of them, rather than waiting until the last minute. If a gift doesn’t arrive in time, print out a picture to place in a card to let them know it is on the way.