“Attention, holiday shoppers!”

Hearing that phrase this time of year can be both exciting and stressful. Shopping for Christmas gifts can be fun and fulfilling, but it can also be stress-inducing and expensive. Thankfully, there are some tactics you can use to save money and ease holiday shopping anxieties.

Here are some tips from shopping gurus and financial experts about how to get the best deals on your Christmas shopping.

Start Making Lists

A good first step in your holiday shopping is to sit down and write out the names of everyone who you’d like to buy a gift for, and start asking for gift suggestions and brainstorming some ideas.

An easy idea is to keep your lists electronically on your smartphone. Every time someone mentions something they’d like, simply jot it down in the moment. By the time you’re ready to start your Christmas shopping, you should have amassed at least a few suggestions for each person.

Don’t Put off Your Shopping

Most people put off their holiday shopping until after Thanksgiving, and some even wait until the week leading up to Christmas to get their shopping done. Retailers run sales to encourage shoppers to run out on Black Friday and battle the crowds to tackle their shopping lists — and to shop online on the Cyber Monday that follows.

But savings experts say that the sales offered post-Thanksgiving generally do not compensate for the additional stress of putting off your shopping. If you are strategic, you can still save money and lessen your stress.

For starters, trying to tackle your entire list in one shopping trip is not feasible or practical. The beauty of doing your Christmas over the month of December is that you have time to do a little bit here and there. “Shop early if you can, and often,” says Karen Hoxmeier, founder of MyBargainBuddy.com. “Whenever you come across a great deal, scoop it up. Chipping away at your shopping a little bit at a time is easier than waiting until the last minute, and it will help prevent overspending.”

Create a Gift Budget and Stick to It

Another reason not to wait is that you can spread your Christmas spending out over a period of a couple months, rather than racking up high bills that have to be paid immediately after the holidays.

“If consumers are coming away with huge credit card bills, it’s because they didn’t budget and save ahead of time,” says Erika Jensen, president of Respire Wealth Management. “By creating a budget for everyone on your list and saving in advance, you can prevent the pain that would normally come after. I have a client who keeps a spreadsheet of her gift recipients and budgets. Instead of making impulse purchases all at one time, she makes purchases when she sees something thoughtful that’s on sale and within budget, and she stores all of them in a closet until Christmas.”

Buy “Signature Gifts”

Though obviously your recipients will have different tastes, once in a while you will find a great deal on something that has universal appeal. Or perhaps you will have several holiday functions to attend, or several client gifts to give. In that case, be on the lookout now for great deals and buy more than one. Laura Jennings, CEO of Knack, calls this a “signature gift.” “I buy 15 or 20 of the same gift and then have them to bring to everything I attend,” she says. “It saves time, money and the mental energy of worrying what to bring.”

Since you are already getting your Christmas shopping done, make things easier by wrapping early, too. By the time the holidays roll around, you can greet them with less stress, and be able to focus on the most important things, like being with loved ones.

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