Christmas Shopping CartThe holidays are upon us and some of us STILL have a list of gifts to buy that seems a mile long. When you add in the fact that everyone’s trying to save a little money on gifts this year, the whole process may seem a little overwhelming. There are a few ways you can manage your gift-buying, though, and you might just be able to speed it up.

1. Start With A Budget

Most people start their holiday gift buying with a list of who they plan of giving presents to, as well as ideas for gifts. Rather than taking that approach, start by deciding your overall budget for gifts this year. From there, break it down by the list of people you’re going to send presents to and start making notes on what they might specifically enjoy. This approach takes a little more time than the other way, but it’ll pay off when you actually start shopping. For those recipients you can’t think of a gift for, you can just locate the nearest “Gifts Under X Dollars” display and check for something appropriate.

2. Give It A Few Days

Rather than immediately shopping as soon as you have made your list, give yourself a little bit of time before you start shopping. Use the time to engage in a little research. That book that your dad’s been asking about — no one else has bought it for him, right? Your nephew wants a jersey — but is he going through a growth spurt? Taking the time to check up on these little details can turn a lackluster gift into something the recipient really wants. And finding out can be as simple as asking the recipient outright or sending a few emails to family.

3. Shop Online

If you truly want to save time and money on your shopping, do it online. Sites like Google will help you locate the gifts you have in mind far faster than a clerk who has to walk all over the store — and many sites offer free shipping for the holidays (FreeShipping.org lists coupon codes for a number of retailers if you don’t have them already). On top of that, the Internet can make it even faster to shop for those friends and family members for whom you only have general ideas. With Amazon.com, for instance, you can sort categories of gifts by price — making it easy to find a good present in your price range. You can even buy gift cards online, from both individual retailers and from clearinghouses. There are plenty of online shopping tools that you can employ to save yourself some time (only a few days remain!) and money this gift-giving season — check out Smartlife’s list of coupon, deal-finder, and price-comparison sites.

No matter how long your gift list is, you can make it manageable. If you don’t feel up to getting it all done on your own, enlist some help. The list of 25 holiday projects to outsource can help you decide how to outsource at least a few parts of your gift list.

Image credit: Liliboas / iStockphoto

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