Holiday Season Shopping Tips

It's that wonderful time of year again where everyone is pushing and shoving their way into retail stores to score that coveted 'IT' item of the season to gift to a loved one. I think we've all been there at least once, waking up at some ungodly hour & standing in the freezing cold to get some insane deal on something. (#guilty) Nowadays it seems with each passing year the sales start earlier and earlier with stores even opening on Thanksgiving. It's getting a little out of hand in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, I love a good deal and hate paying retail but wouldn't you rather sit at home in your cozy PJs and shop online? I know I would. Whether you're hitting the ground running in a few hours for Black Friday or saving it for the Interwebs on Cyber Monday, I've got some tips to help keep you sane.

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Conquering Black Friday & Cyber Monday

1. Get Your Rest. If I need to shop Black Friday in an actual store, I go early. Like 6 am early, if they are open, which they will most likely be. Most of the stores aren't nearly as crowded and if you have a game plan (tip #2), you'll be in and out without any of that crazy holiday shopping madness. As the day continues and everyone has awoken from their food comas, the stores get progressively more crowded even by 9 am and become somewhat of a nightmare. With any online sales, most of those hit yesterday. 

2. Have A Game Plan. Don't go into shopping without knowing what you want, for whom it's for, where to get it, and any sizing, dimensions, or colors that may come into play. The last thing you want is to have to battle the stores again to exchange them or waste time trying to guess or remember what size they said they needed. You want to be efficient and not waste any time.  

3. Know The Return Policy & Shipping Date. Most bigger stores will have extended their normal return policy to sometime after January 1. However, if you buy from a smaller retailer they may not extend their dates or may even only allow exchanges. On the flipside, if you order something online, especially something monogrammed or custom, check their shipping dates and see when they guarantee delivery. You might need to pay for expedited shipping.

4. Be Wary of Low Deals and Limited Quantities. If the deal is too good to be true then it probably is. If someone is offering a laptop or TV at some ridiculously low cost and their might be only 200/store available then it's might be because the parts being used or the craftmanship is poor quality. So in less than six months you might find yourself replacing that item already.

5. Do Your Research. A lot of retail stores release their BF/CM deals ahead of time so do your research based on your game plan (tip #2). Call on Google to help you find out reviews on the brands and scope out what their normal retail price is. Sometimes the BF/CM deal that is being touted as the "best deal of the year" actually really isn't.. 

6. Treat Yo' Self. I know that it's not exactly the right time to be thinking about buying for yourself buuuut almost every single designer department sale starts their sales the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. That means those Rag and Bone booties you might be eyeing, or that Chloe bag, or even better those Saint Laurent Tributes you've been lusting after all year just went on sale for almost up to 40%. I know this sale comes every year, so I plan and save some money throughout the year so I can buy myself something I've been wanting.  Because not only does it feel good to step out in your new goods, it feels even better knowing you got them half off. Alternatively, to treating yourself to a luxury good it might also be a great time to replace that washer/dryer or get that new couch you've been wanting.

7. Shop Small & Local. My last tip about this weekends kick-off to the holiday shopping season is to shop small & local. Tomorrow, Saturday, November 26 is Small Business Saturday. It started as a way for consumers to support their small neighborhood businesses. Check your neighborhood stores as some may even be running specials. Not only will you get a deal, you'll also be supporting your local town and helping them stay in business. What I love about a lot of the local shops around me is that you'll find items that are unique but also so giftable.

My final thought on this holiday "shopping" season is to think outside the traditional material gift. While this is the season of giving, why not use this opportunity to really evaluate the gifts you are giving. Are you giving a gift just to give it? Does the person really need it or want it or will it end up being more stuff they accumulate in their house? Honestly, most the time it's the latter. When really don't we want to add value to someone's life rather than add clutter? While yes, I've provided you tips for your holiday shopping and plenty of gift ideas, why not give the gift of an experience. Not sure what I'm talking about, check out page 11 of my holiday gift guide to learn more.

I hope these tips help you tackle your holiday shopping like a boss but more importantly be thoughtful, kind, buy with a purpose, and enjoy the fun.