The following is a guest post from David Bakke, a contributor for Money Crashers Personal Finance. He is based in Atlanta and frequently writes about money management and smart shopping online. If interested in submitting a guest post, please read my guest posting policy and then contact me.

While the holidays are a time to enjoy the company of friends and family, it can quickly become stressful and agitating if you don’t have a solid plan for holiday shopping. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, but many of us still have lots of gifts yet to buy. To make this season enjoyable and affordable, apply buying strategies that work any time of the year to your holiday shopping routine.

1. Purchase Gifts Online

Shopping online is often the best way to score great deals – but even if you have to pay a little more, the convenience can be worth it. You can make purchases whenever you want, and you can also compare and contrast different models, sizes and features for your gifts. This also saves a great deal of time (and gas) compared to roaming the aisles of multiple local retailers.

2. Shop When It’s Convenient

Instead of trying to squeeze in a little shopping during a lunch break or after a hard day’s work, consider going in the evening after you’ve had time to unwind or hit the gym. You’ll be more relaxed and have a clearer head. Never shop on an empty stomach either – this just exacerbates the stress issue.

3. Use the Right Credit Card

To reduce stress yet further, get additional savings by using the right credit card for your purchases. For instance, there are various cash back credit cards, some of which offer up to 5% back in rewards for certain spending categories. You could also go through shopping portals before navigating to retailer websites to save even more.

4. Buy Gifts During Non-Peak Hours

Even though Black Friday has passed, extended holiday hours are ongoing. Many stores are open all day and night during the weeks leading up the holidays. In order to do your final shopping with a little peace and quiet, consider going out after the kids are in bed so you can concentrate on the task at hand.

5. Consider Buying Gift Cards

If time is running out and you’re stressing about finding the perfect gift for the remaining people on your list, simply purchase gift cards from retailers you know they like. This saves time and reduces stress, and ensures that the recipients will get something they truly want.

When you’re out and about buying gifts during the final weeks leading up to the holidays, remember that store personnel are likely overworked and worn out. If you encounter a rude salesperson, simply keep the spirit of the holidays in mind and stay positive. You’ll be much less stressed at the end of the day, and will likely make their day much better as well.

What ways can you think of to reduce stress and save time during holiday shopping?

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