The holiday season is a wonderful time of year – filled with goodwill, cheer, caroling and snow. It’s also filled with crowds doing last-minute holiday shopping. Getting gifts for your friends and family is a beautiful part of the season, but battling crowds at the mall can seem daunting. From the never-ending line of children waiting to see Santa, to the doorbuster deal crowds and the disgruntled mall teens, it’s a stressful place to be.
Be a smarter gift buyer this year with our holiday shopping tips.
Make A List (and Check it Twice)
Making a list is one of the simplest things you can do to make your holiday shopping easier. If you have a list of all the people you plan to get gifts for, you won’t forget anybody. But an even better idea is making a list of what exact gifts you’re going to get everybody. Sure, it makes shopping less spontaneous, but nobody wants to be wandering a crowded mall or department store just a couple of days before Christmas. I’m sure you have decorations to put up.
Planning ahead will minimize the stress of shopping in general. Knowing the gifts you plan to buy will help you resist impulse purchases. A list makes it far easier to search for discounts, and you’ll finish your shopping a lot faster than you would have otherwise.
Figure Out What to Get
Okay, so you have to know the gifts you want to get before you actually go shopping. But what about the people in your life that are impossible to buy gifts for? Maybe they’re picky, or maybe they just have everything you could have thought of already.
If you don’t know what to get a friend or family member, a handy way to find out what they might be interested in is to check their social media profiles. It’s not likely that they’ll have posted exactly what they want, but they probably talk a lot about their favorite books, films and sports teams. This is all great gift fodder.
If you still can’t figure out what to get them, you can give to a charity in their name. You could give to a widely-admired cause, or to a cause that has touched the recipient personally. A gift like that will really show someone that you were thinking of them and of what they value.
If none of these plans work for you, well, just make sure you include a gift receipt.
Make Your Money Do Double Duty
Giving someone a gift is a selfless act of love and compassion. But what if you could also earn points? You might be in a more generous spending mood if you know that you’re racking up rewards on your credit card. Everybody wins.
The AAA Member Rewards Visa Signature card, for example, grants three times points on eligible travel and AAA purchases, and two times points on gas, grocery store, wholesale club and drugstore purchases. Even on all other purchases, it offers one point for every dollar spent. So while you’re buying gifts for your loved ones, you can also be earning points to take yourself and those loved ones on a sweet vacation. Maybe to somewhere warm, and a lot less crowded.
You can redeem your AAA Member Rewards Visa Signature card points for cash back, statement credits, gift cards, air travel, car rentals, hotel stays or AAA vouchers.
Pay Attention While You Shop
It pays to pay attention in the rush of holiday crowds. If you do your homework in advance, you can find out which stores are running special Christmas deals – some stores even hold the same sales at the same time every year.
When you enter a shop, go to the back first! It might seem strange, but the front of a store in a busy mall is usually picked-through, disorganized and crowded. If you head to the back of the store first, you’ll have more options to choose from and less people bumping into you. Many stores even have special sales in the back, so you might save while you’re back there!
If you’re on the hunt for a good deal, download a price-match app on your phone before you head out the door. Sometimes it might be worth it to buy something at a different store for a lower price.
Online Shopping Is Your Friend
Online shopping has drastically changed how holiday shopping can be done. If you will under no circumstances venture into the mall this holiday season, the internet can help you out. Last year, I did all of my holiday shopping online for the first time, and I was shocked at how painless it was. I was so used to going out and searching for gifts, but with online shopping, they were just a click away.
You can still use a lot of the aforementioned tips if you’re shopping online this season. You can of course use your credit card to make purchases, but online shopping and research can also help you build out your shopping list.
Don’t know what to get someone in your life? Check out one of our articles on gifts for travelers, holiday baking gifts, retro gifts and more. They can help give you a head-start on trawling through the many gifts available online.
If you wind up shopping online this season, just remember to make sure your deliveries will arrive long before Christmas. Prime members get two-day free delivery on Amazon, but always double-check the arrival date before you commit to a purchase. If you want to shop online, you should start as soon as possible.
Do you have any holiday shopping tips or tricks? Let us know in the comments below!
Learn about the AAA Member Rewards Visa Signature® card. And to learn more about all the financial services AAA offers, visit AAA.com/Financial.
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