I think we’ve all heard some of the horror stories about trying to shop for holiday gifts at the last minute. The mad scramble for merchandise at overcrowded stores and malls sometimes makes me wonder if any of those shoppers actually understand the meaning of the holiday season.

Due to time constraints, or simply faulty memories, there’s likely going to come a time when we’re all forced to wade through crowds of shoppers at our local merchants in hopes of finding that perfect present for a friend or loved one. However, with proper thought and planning ahead of time, all of that can be avoided.

For instance, most might not realize it, but holiday decorations are, on average, half the price during the summer compared to what they’ll cost in November or December. In fact, there are even places online you can find decorations at such discount prices that you might wonder why anyone would wait to make such purchases closer to the end of the year. Make sure to scout the catalogs and newspapers for discounts on items. Some stores may be having a huge clearance or going out of business sale.

An example of this is Christmas lights. Where you’ll be lucky to find a strand of 100 lights for less than $15 if you wait till the last minute, you can find that same strand of lights for $7 or less online right now. This is because stores fully understand the economic theory of supply and demand and raise their prices accordingly once the holidays are actually upon us. Same goes with other decorations such as bulbs and ornaments, ribbons, tinsel, and wreaths.

Decorations aren’t the only things that are discounted or on sale long before Thanksgiving. There are numerous sales throughout the middle of the year on such items as clothing, electronics, appliances, toys, music, and movies. Making these purchases earlier in the year, especially for more generally expensive items, can see you saving big bucks over the long haul.

There are limits to what you can do in order to save money and get that perfect gift by shopping early. After all, some items you’d like to give to that special someone might not yet be available, or even known about, during the middle of the year. A certain toy, movie or piece of clothing might not yet have been introduced.

Nevertheless, the stress you might feel trying to secure those special items and gifts toward the end of the year can be greatly reduced by having the majority of your other gifts and decorations purchased long before that, saving you loads of money in the long run. Knowing you have most of your shopping done early can make you a calm and happy shopper. That, in turn, might just make it easier for you to actually get that item as your fellow shoppers scramble madly around you in their anxiety-driven haze.

You will be, to put it bluntly, a lean, mean, focused shopping machine.

This article is written by Megan Yancey of Collections Etc. 

Image source: moneysavingtipsblog.org

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