November Holiday Shopping Tips

by Jeannieinabottle

It is November and it is time to come up with some holiday shopping strategies.

Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and other holiday celebrations are coming in December. If you want to celebrate the holiday season with as little stress as possible, it is in your best interest to begin planning and shopping in November.

Let's discuss some strategies for the upcoming holiday shopping season. If we tackle many of the errands in November, everything will run smoother in December. The holidays can be very hectic, but they don't have to be that way.

Sign Up for Email Deals

The first strategy I have for Christmas shopping involves one of my favorite activities: coupons.  One of the best suggestions I can give anyone during the beginning of the holiday shopping phase is to go on websites and sign up for email coupons and sale reminders. 

I would suggest signing up for emails on store websites if you typically shop at that store for the holidays.  This means even if you do not typically shop at Old Navy, if your best friends love Old Navy and you always make purchases there each holiday season for them, you definitely want to sign up to receive their coupons.  Also, it is a great idea to sign up for stores that sell gift sets, such as Yankee Candle and Bath & Body Works.  Those stores are often excellent places to go for generic gift sets and last-minute gift ideas.

Some stores I would suggest visiting online and signing up for email updates would be:

All of the stores listed above are known for sending coupons.  Not only will you receive coupons and know when the best sales are going to occur, emails from those stores can often give you gift ideas.  If you shop for friends or family members that are particularly difficult to find gifts for during the holidays, these email updates will give you ideas.  Sometimes you will need all the help you can get.

Collect Coupons While Shopping Early

Bath and Body Works 2012 Gift Guide
Bath and Body Works 2012 Gift Guide

Make Some Lists

November is also the best time to start making lists (and checking them twice if you are Santa) for your holiday shopping.  Based on some of the ideas you will get from your store email updates, from loved ones' suggestions, and your own ideas, it is time to start making a list of items you would like to buy as holiday gifts.  It can also help to use this list to determine a budget for your holiday shopping.  Also, once this list is created, you can go out and buy items when you find out they are on sale.  For some people, it helps them financially to buy just an item or two each week until their holiday shopping is done.

Aside from making a list for presents, you will also want to do inventory for Christmas (or other holiday) supplies.  November is a good time to check and see what will be needed for December.  Are you almost out of wrapping paper?  Is your Christmas tree falling apart?  Did your holiday candles melt during a very hot summer?  If you determine you need any of these items, add them to your shopping list or start a second shopping list just for supplies. 

Start Shopping in November

I always find the best time to start holiday shopping is in November, sometimes even as early as October.  You will find that many stores begin offering one day sales or Pre-Black Friday sales in the early part of November.  I personally recommend shopping for some gifts during the early sales in November.  Quite frankly, you can't pay me enough to suffer through Black Friday sales.  Yes, you can get great deals, but yes, you could also be trampled over because a group of shoppers desperately need to buy toasters for $3.  It is just not worth it to me.

Buying items throughout November is your best bet.  Of course, it is easier to track sales when you receive email updates.  Also, never forget some of your best places to shop are going to be Walmart, Target, Kmart, and dollar stores.  This is especially the case if you need a lot of basics like tape, wrapping paper, ornaments, gift bags, decorations, etc.  The dollar store is also one of the best places to get low-priced Christmas cards in bulk.  If you are the type that still likes to mail out many cards, I would recommend seeing what the dollar store has to offer.  Their cards are often the prettiest you are going to find, and of course they will not be expensive.

Try Online Shopping

Since there will be plenty of time for delays in shipping in November, I would recommend trying online shopping now.  Once it is December, you might be taking a big risk ordering gifts online.  You can often get a good estimate when items are going to ship if you use Amazon, but other websites might not be as helpful.  For this reason, I would say if you intend on doing a lot of online shopping for the holidays, start early sometime in November.  For that matter, if you want amazing Black Friday deals, check out store websites on that day.  You can often get the same deals but without dealing with the crowds.

Get Organized in November

Now that you've made your holiday lists and started picking up gifts, it is a good idea to start organizing your purchases.  I would recommend getting some boxes and keeping items organized.  The last thing you want to do is buy a present for Aunt Suzie and forget where you put it.  You will be seriously angry shuffling through your closet a week before December trying to find that present.  Instead, get shoeboxes or bigger boxes and start to organize items. 

This is also a good time to organize old decorations and add your new decorations to your holiday items.  If you are in an especially merry mood, you might even opt to start using some of your new decorations.  Don't forget to add new wrapping paper, bows, ribbons, and tags to your old items.  It will be comforting when it is time to wrap presents to know you already have all the needed supplies.

In some instances, I know people that specifically buy gift bags or wrapping paper for a particular person.  If you prefer to organize holiday items like that, you can put that person's gift with the gift bag intended for them, or even add their gifts to that gift bag as you go along with holiday shopping.  That is often a really great way to keep organized.  Just remember... it is only November and planning your holiday shopping strategies now will only help you in the future.

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Updated: 11/04/2012, Jeannieinabottle
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