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Five Tips For Holiday Crunch Time

NEW YORK, Dec. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- With the holidays just around the corner, there's still much to be done.  Shoppers plan to spend $848 on gifts this season, according to the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, and they're loading up on gifts for an average of eight people this year. If you're like most, you started early, but you're still not there yet.  Chances are the last ones left on your list are your closest friends and loved ones, because they're always the hardest to buy for. That's why New York Times bestselling author and lifestyle expert Jill Martin is on hand to offer some tips for harried holiday shoppers.

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From family to friends, and everything in between, Jill is aces at stretching a budget, and finding the hottest items for everyone on the list this year.  Below, she outlines her top five tips for breezing through the holiday crunch time:
  1. Get something for your spend – Make sure that the money you're spending on those holiday gifts is getting you something back--whether it's points you can turn into great presents from gift cards to gadgets, miles to travel or cash back for your money spent.
  2. Convert Rewards Points Instantly for Last Minute Gift Savings – Just in time for this season, American Express launched Mobile Gift Cards, which lets you  download gift cards instantly and use them right at the register at Banana Republic, Gap, Old Navy, PBteen®, Pottery Barn®, Pottery Barn Kids®, West Elm® and William-Sonoma®…with more retailers to come! Amex is the only credit card rewards program to currently offer this, and it means you can choose to use rewards points for purchases on the spot, while you shop.
  3. Protect your Purchase and Yourself – When you're making purchases left and right to check off your holiday gift list, make sure you and your purchases are protected. Use a card that protects you from fraud, damages, and the need to make a return if the shirt you thought would fit your brother, doesn't.  For example I use my American Express, and I can rest assured that even if my gifts don't work out, Amex has my back.
  4. Practicality can be Chic – Consider what a friend or family member needs in their home and daily lives - it may not seem like an exciting gift, but it ensures that your gift will be well-used and appreciated. Even something as practical as kitchen appliances come with bold design and personality.
  5. Give the Gift of Experience – Concerts, dinners, shows and more!  If you want to skip the malls all together, give your loved ones tickets to their favorite band coming to town or a gift card to the restaurant they've been meaning to try. 

"The final stretch of the season can be crazed, but you can still shop smart while still giving gifts that wow," says Martin.

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