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It's that time of year again -- long lines, huge credit-card bills, trying to figure out on Christmas Eve where you are going to find the coveted Chicken Dance Elmo for your child.

To eager retailers, excited kiddies and nervous parents, Thanksgiving means one thing: One day until Black Friday. It's also one day until Hanukkah begins. Shopping season is upon us, but it doesn't have to be so bad.

Eric Gillin,'s

consumer-finance reporter, has been trolling the Web and hitting the bricks and mortars to help readers get a grip on the holidays. We've compiled the best of his recent shopper-savvy articles for this Holiday Shopping Guide.

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We hope the folks trolling financial Web sites instead of eating turkey or watching football today will be rewarded by getting a leg up on the competition this holiday season. That way, you can relax and get down to the real meaning of the season -- enjoying the gifts people give you.

The Spirit of Christmas Doesn't Have to Cost a Fortune. Here are seven ways to keep costs down, and put the season in the proper perspective.

The Inside Line on the Hottest Toys. Here are the most-sought-after playthings this season -- and a few near misses.

Finding That Hot Toy. These tips should help you secure the toy of the season before it's too late.

Avoid a Holiday Fleecing When You Shop Online . You're 12 times more likely to get ripped off on the Web. These four steps will help keep you safe.

Doing One's E-Bidding Safely. Here's how to avoid getting bamboozled.