- Determine Your Needs: Before you can prepare for shopping, you need to first determine what is actually needed. Create a gift list to make sure you have ideas for everyone on your list. In addition, create a separate list of items you may want/need that could be a part of holiday sales, such as appliances, household items and personal products.
- Do Your Homework: With gift and wish lists in hand, start looking online for holiday circulars and special Black Friday ads. If there's a deal for any of your listed items, write it down next to the item. The same applies for Cyber Monday sales. Also, use folders or expanding files to compile printed ads, circulars and coupons. In the end, you should have a list with all deal opportunities available.
- Make a Plan: This sounds simple enough, but it's probably one of the most overlooked steps taken for holiday shopping preparation. Make an itinerary or timeline with store hours and times of special sales, and include store locations so that a streamlined route can be determined. Don't forget to allow yourself extra time for waiting in lines, and always make sure to give yourself a break or two to "refuel."
- Teamwork: For the serious Black Friday shoppers, complete sales coverage is attained through a group of individuals. As part of your plan, divide and conquer stores and sales in order to maximize opportunities and lessen the burden on each person. Have folders and copies of your lists, who's looking for what, and sale information for each person in your group.
- Reminders: Incorporate your lists and plans into your personal electronic devices. Organizing and note-taking apps like Evernote as well as calendaring and e-mail programs like Microsoft ® Outlook ® are perfect for accomplishing this and offer reminders for tasks and events as well as on-the-go notations. Whether you're shopping individually or as part of a group, these reminders can help you stay on schedule—it's like having an extra holiday "helper" to make sure you don't miss any important events. Plus, all of this information is easily integrated with your personal planner.
- Stick to the Plan: It's tempting to wander about a store that's running holiday specials in every department, but if you're serious about fulfilling your gift list—not to mention staying on task and within budget—you need to stick to your plan. In addition, if there's an item on your plan that happens to fall through (e.g., the store runs out of the product), amend the plan and look for the item during subsequent sales or online.
Take The Stress Out Of Holiday Shopping Through Productive Planning
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