Budget: If you’re worried about not finding gifts in the price range you can readily afford, try purchasing a group gift. Either go in with a friend or relative to get one person a bigger gift or, combine two of your gift budgets to get one bigger gift for a couple.
Don’t wait too long: Whether you’re ordering online, or going to a store to find your gifts, don't wait too long. Waiting will increase the likelihood the gift will not arrive on time or you paying expedited shipping charges. The item may be out of stock or on backorder, or you'll end up purchasing a less thoughtful or more expensive gift because you're out of time.
Make a list: Do this even, if you do not know the exact item, color or size. With a list, you can plan on going to specific stores or departments to find the gift, versus wandering around aimlessly, trying to figure out something.
Compare prices: Before running around to three different stores, try to determine where the best deals are. Use the Internet to seek out the best prices. Most sites allow you to check if the item is in stock. You may also discover sites like Amazon.com might be the cheapest. In that case—you can completely avoid a trip.
Wear comfortable clothing: Whether it’s the 10-mile hike from the parking lot or the endless laps around the mall, shopping days will be exhausting and you will want to be comfortable. The most important part of your comfy ensemble are the shoes. Make sure you wear comfortable, supportive shoes or else you will be up all night with sore feet and an aching back. Also, bring a light rain jacket and umbrella with you, in case it starts to rain or snow during your trip. You wouldn't want to walk all the way back to the car without these items.
Check exchange/return policies before buying: Do this if you aren't sure of the size, if the gift receiver is a notorious item swapper, or if you purchase an item you think you can find cheaper elsewhere.
Avoid paying with credit cards or opening new accounts: Using existing credit accounts opening a new account at the register is an easy way to ruin your budget and set yourself up for financial downfall. Paying for gifts in cash or using your checking account can help you avoid unnecessary interest and future stress.
Avoid prime shopping times: Obviously, nights and weekends will be the busiest. So if you happen to be free on a Monday afternoon or a Wednesday night, then use those days to shop. A good rule of thumb is to think of the times you least feel like going shopping, then go. The crowds will be a lot thinner; chances are, everybody else is as tired as you are.
Get it before it’s gone: If you find the perfect gift for someone, don’t leave it behind because you think you might get a better deal later, or you might find something better. Chances are, you’ll end up with no gifts and a raging headache.
Take a friend: These folks can help you carry things and make decisions. He or she can even hit up one store while you do another. Not only will bringing someone with you, help with the shopping, but a familiar face might also help you stay positive in the face of shopping woes.