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5 Ways to Beat the Christmas Rush

It's that time of year that everyone is scampering around the stores and malls hoping to finish up their Christmas Shopping.  I was at Costco last Saturday and not only did I have a hard time finding a shopping cart, the cart didn't have any space to move with all the people jam packed in the giant store.  The sheer frustration of that experience is what inspired me to write this post.

Since most people do their shopping at the last minute, here are some ways to beat the rush:

  1. Do your shopping early.  Start your shopping in Oct and November instead of waiting until the middle of December (guilty as charged).
  2. If you need to do your shopping in mid-late December, go to the stores after work during supper hour (6pm-8pm).  That's when I find stores to be the quietest as normal people are home (or heading home) with their families having supper.
  3. Avoid shopping on Saturdays as much as possible.  This is a lesson that I keep learning over and over.  In my defense, the samples are best at Costco on Saturdays. :)
  4. Do your shopping online.  I find books, DVDs and gift cards to be great gifts. All of which can be purchased (and delivered) from the comfort of your own home.
  5. Practice the art of the re-gift.  I got this idea from a reader last year.  We all get gifts from aunts and uncles that you probably will never use.  If you receive the item before Christmas, why not repackage it and give it to someone who might use it?

What are your tips for Christmas shopping?

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FT About the author: FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • WhereDoesAllMyMoneyGo.com December 19, 2007, 5:53 am

    I’ve heard from numerous people that shopping on Christmas Eve is the way to go if you don’t have your heart set on a particular item. Malls are apparently empty as everyone is doing family stuff during the day. Selection can be limited, but you also might catch some stores with boxing day prices coming into affect!

  • Meg December 19, 2007, 11:06 am

    It’s a given and not that easy sometimes, but know what you want before you even head to the stores…make a list, should help you save a bit of time and money, just like grocery shopping. Mid-Dec is not the easiest time to be browsing :)

    Also…you could make your gifts, I managed two home-made gifts this year :)

  • Sods December 19, 2007, 12:09 pm

    I hate the malls this time of year, I finished everything except stocking stuffers pre-halloween!

    On a side note, it is fun to grab a coffee and watch all the crazies run around some times though :D

  • nobleea December 19, 2007, 1:40 pm

    I agree with Point #2. Shop on weeknights. Better if you push it as late as possible. Most stores will be open til 10pm this time of year. I started my shopping last night (yes, started) and at 9pm, the parking lots and stores were empty. Still the same selection though.

    Making a list before hand definitely helps. Along with the specific items, list a couple stores that might/do carry them.

  • Cross the River December 19, 2007, 2:15 pm

    Point #4 raises some potential issues. If you are probably never going to use the gift in the first place, odds are the receiver might be in the same situation. Also, regiving can be dangerous if the aunts or uncles (which we all love) fidn out. Got to be carefull.

    I also agree with Sods. going to the mall at this time of year and just sitting with a coffee is actually very relaxing (if you’ve done your shopping of course). But then again, you probably have something more usefull to do.

  • Rod Payne December 19, 2007, 3:21 pm

    Go on Hallowe’en night. Every year, I stay home and satisfy the beggars while my wife hits the stores. I hit on this by accident one year when I stopped at Wal-Mart in the Avalon Mall (St. John’s) to get extra candies. It was empty. I went home, gave my wife a fistful of dollars, and sent her off.

    This helps me avoid two things:

    1) crowded stores – I hate them.
    2) Xmas music in November – oh, do I hate that! Sadly, the stores are onto me. I happened to be in a Shopper’s on my birthday (late October) and caught myself humming along to “Silver Bells”.

  • Mike December 19, 2007, 6:45 pm

    Don’t shop – just buy. Browse online and go to the mall only to buy exactly what you are looking for.

  • MIR December 19, 2007, 6:50 pm

    Donate to charity on behalf of the receiver. Buy groceries early and prep as much food as possible ahead of time.

  • Gates VP December 21, 2007, 4:10 am

    #6 (?) Be frugal with your time and keep a few gifts around.

    It’s part “shop during the year”, but it’s also foresight. It’s the “hey this would make a good gift for a couple of people.” I actually keep a box for “gifts to give” so that when x-mas comes I’m already ahead and less likely to be caught off-guard.

  • Gates VP December 21, 2007, 4:26 am

    Oh yeah I’ll also do some shopping ahead over the x-mas season for stuff I may want next year.

    If you check out those Calendar Club stores with calendars and games, they’ll typically drop their prices 50% on Boxing Day. So you can step up and buy a Monopoly game or Settlers or Uno or Go or Dice Bowling (?).

    It’s all stuff that you can give to children or adults or friends and it’s usually great to have games around x-mas when families like to have something to “do

  • Jessica Bennet December 21, 2007, 9:28 am

    Very simple yet very smart tips indeed!

    Shopping online is good as it helps you to avail offers and discounts. I’ve shared some tips from my own experiences at http://www.mortgagefit.com/budgeting/51tips-christmas.html

    Hope you like them.

    Have fun and enjoy the Christmas!

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