two young women walking down the street with shopping bagsYou know how summer just started about three minutes ago? And now it’s over? Well, soon it will be December – and we’ll be looking back at autumn, feeling the same way. Wouldn’t it be nice to just relax and enjoy the holiday season this year, without having to rush from store to crowded store? If you begin your shopping now, you’ll have a better shot at making thoughtful gift choices and even saving money.

Thoughtful Gifting

Who are you going to give gifts to this holiday season? It’s a good time to make an exhaustive list, whittle it down if you need to and then start planning.

When you have your gift list on your mind early – well before the stores even begin to play holiday music – you’ll be more aware of clues around you. Your mom may point out a sweater that looks pretty or mention that she’s been searching forever for a good book on John F. Kennedy. Your ears may perk up when your favorite co-worker mentions that he lost his favorite winter scarf. You may notice your significant other’s eyes light up as they land on a new pair of running shoes. Watch for subtle hints that your loved ones may not even know they’re dropping.

You can also start perusing some wish lists. Friends and family may tag items on Amazon or ToysRUs that they someday want to purchase for themselves or for their kids. Others may list items on popular wish list sites. They’ll be pleased that you took the time to discover what they really want this holiday season.

If you aren’t great at catching clues, that’s okay! If you start your shopping now, you’ll have more time to think about what to give. You can make notes when inspiration hits. You can keep your eyes open for special gifts when you’re on vacation, window-shopping on a city street, running into Target to buy cat litter or browsing for new jeans at your favorite mall. It’s wonderful to be able to buy gifts for people when you’re reminded of them – as opposed to going to a store and thinking, “What can I find here for every person on my list?”

Save Some Money

Did you ever overcompensate by spending more money on a gift because you felt guilty about buying it at the last minute? Don’t do that! It’s possible, of course, for last minute gifts to come from the heart. You may find, though, that those gifts from the heart may be less expensive when you start searching for them earlier.

Additionally, many stores will have sales between now and the holidays – you may not have to brave Black Friday to find them. If you provide them with your email address, many stores, like Banana Republic, Anthropologie, OshKosh B’gosh, Pottery Barn and West Elm, will keep you in the know about special markdowns and sales taking place. If you find that you don’t like the extra noise in your inbox after the holidays, you can always unsubscribe from the mailing lists.

Is anyone on your list into antiques, vintage clothing and home accessories? You may be able to find some great treasures at estate sales. I wouldn’t recommend getting them some ratty old sweatshirt, but you may be able to find a good deal on a well-preserved Tiffany lamp, rare book or a unique bracelet.

Even if you prioritize saving money, your holiday expenses will at the least be spread out over several months. You’ll be set up to avoid that terrifying early January credit card statement.

Before you know it, the stores will have out their decorations and the radio will be playing those holiday tunes. When that time arrives, sit back, sip hot cocoa, relax and enjoy. You’ll have earned it.

Do you have any great tips for early holiday shopping? Leave us comments below.

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