8 Tips for Making Holiday Shopping Way Easier

So there's more time for Netflix Christmas movies and less time waiting in line at department stores

Boxes and packages next to front door during holiday christmas season.; online shopping
Photo: Getty

Between travel, family obligations and finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list, the holidays are stressful. But shopping for presents doesn’t have to be a taxing chore. We complied the top hacks for making gift-giving a breeze.

Understand Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday

Serious holiday shoppers should take time to compare and contrast these promotional days, then plan accordingly. Here’s everything you need to know:

  • Black Friday allows plenty of time to plan ahead, as most deals are advertised weeks in advance. It also offers much better deals on splurge items, like TVs, laptops and appliances, according to Business Insider.
  • Aside from the obvious advantage of avoiding huge crowds and aggressive shoppers, Cyber Monday offers better deals on small gadgets, niche gifts and secondhand gems (think products you’d typically find on eBay).
  • One important distinction to remember is that many online retailers have sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, whereas very few brick-and-mortar stores that have major Black Friday sales also offer discounts on Cyber Monday
Smartphone's on the counter of a modern electronics store

Join RetailMeNot

RetailMeNot is a one-stop source for coupons valid at retailers like Best Buy, Target and Walgreens. You can sign up now to get them delivered straight to your inbox, filter through options like clothing, beauty, electronics and more to find deals (or cash-back offers) that align with your shopping list for stress-free savings this holiday season and – to make it easiest of all – download Genie, the site’s browser extension, which automatically will scour any retail site you’re shopping and list all the available offers you can apply.

Take Notes Throughout the Year

We see thousands of products advertised online, in stores and on social media all year long. So why is it that we can’t think of a single gift by the time the holidays roll around? Don’t succumb to the pressure of last-minute gift shopping; instead, start building your list throughout the year, as ideas occur to you. We suggest downloading the Evernote app to jot down potential gifts as you see them advertised throughout the year. Or, create a “collection” on Instagram (similar to a photo album) using the app’s “save” feature and gradually add to it throughout the year. You can thank us when you revisit the robust gift lists in December 2020!

electronic shopping

Use Google Shopping

Google Shopping recently got a facelift, adding cool new features to make your life easier. The update personalizes shopping suggestions based on web activity, then directs shoppers to “purchase products through the Google site, a third-party retailer’s site, or in-store,” according to Forbes. This is especially useful during the holidays because Google Shopping will tell you if you can pick-up a product at a nearby location if you don’t have time to wait for an online order to be delivered.

Get One-Day Shipping at Target or Walmart

Yes, it’s true. Walmart offers free next-day shipping on orders over $35, while in some markets, Target offers same-day delivery for everything from toys and kitchen and dining, to bedding and beauty supplies through their app. (In other markets, you can choose in-store pickup and either grab it right from the customer service counter, or even have it delivered to you in the parking lot while you wait in your car.)

Stock Up on Go-To Holiday Gifts

When you see universal crowd pleasers (like candles, gift cards, blankets, socks, etc.) on sale, purchase them in bulk. Then combine a few to create a curated set, perfect for last-minute gift exchanges or holiday parties!

Christmas shopping; holiday shopping

Organize Receipts

No matter how confident you are in your gift-giving skills, you should always keep receipts. Store them neatly in a drawer until it’s time for holiday parties, where you’ll be totally prepared for the awkward moment when a family member tries on the brand new sweater you got them and it’s two sizes too small.

Take Advantage of Free Shipping Day on Dec. 14

Okay, so you didn’t get the Cyber Monday memo. Fear not! For 24-hours only on Saturday, Dec. 14, big and small online retailers — nearly 1,000 in total! — offer free shipping. And while we don’t necessarily suggest waiting this late in the game to stock up on holiday gifts, we do understand that it’s sometimes unavoidable. To help you out, retailers who participate in Free Shipping Day guarantee delivery on or before Christmas Eve. Mark your calendars, then visit freeshippingday.com to learn more.

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