According to Julie Morgernstern in her book Time Management from the Inside Out, the best plan when you shop for the holidays is to make a list of what you want to buy and bring it with you when you shop.  This makes perfect sense.  A list helps focus your efforts and should stop you from aimless wandering waiting for the perfect gift to “jump out and grab you!”  

Now there is nothing wrong with shopping to gain inspiration, but you have to admit that waiting for inspiration to strike takes way more time.  If you have the time to spare, then go for it.  If, however, you are like most of us and feel the pressure of having to fit holiday shopping into an already full schedule, try this technique.  

One of the benefits of the internet is that we can “shop” online to get ideas.  Set a time limit say of 30 minutes.  Make a list of websites that have items you are looking for and then spend time browsing through the inventories.  Make decisions about what you want to buy and write it down.  It can be as general as “a kitchen gadget for Beth, a tool of some kind for Randy, a Furby for Sarah.” 

Next choose your shopping area.  As a downtown merchant, I need to stop here and make a plug for downtown!  You can find an amazing assortment of products downtown: specialty olive oils, and kitchen gadgets, creative gifts, western clothing and boutique clothing, jewelry, handmade chocolates and candy, gift cards to favorite restaurants and movie theaters, toys, and so much more.  Best yet, when you shop downtown, you support local businesses and people!  

Make a game plan!  Figure out what stores you need to visit and then just start going from one to another.  You’ll have your shopping handled in no time.  Best yet, when you shop downtown, most of the merchants will gift wrap for free!  You can come home and put those gifts under the tree.  Holdiay shopping done! 

Now go take a hot bath and congratulate yourself on being such a smart shopper!