CHRISTMAS SHOPPING TIPS

You may have had 11 months to plan for it, but chances are you still may not be ready for the holiday shopping season. Never fear—our Gift Gurus shop for a living, and they're happy to share with you their favorite time (and money) saving techniques.

Christmas Gift Ideas

Makes Lists & Plan Ahead
Buying early lets you avoid last minute desperation that can lead to over-spending. Buy online early to take advantage of free ground shipping offers. No one likes having to pay the extra cost for overnight delivery. If you have popular items on your list, shopping early can help you avoid out-of-stock items. Check with merchants as some sites even offer pre-orders.
Know Your Shipping Deadlines
There's nothing worse than realizing you've missed the deadline to ship Christmas gifts. December 17th is usually the cut off for standard shipping but, to be safe, try to get those gifts ordered by December 10th. Avoid paying extra charges and take advantage of free ground shipping offers.
Secure Shopping Online
Security of personal and credit card information is a top concern when shopping online. Always take extra care to know you are shopping on a secure site that encrypts transaction information. When asked to enter credit card information, look for "https://" at the beginning of the website URL. The "s" indicates that the information being transmitted is encrypted for privacy. Some browsers such as Internet Explorer will have a lock icon or symbol to indicate that the website is secure.

Always be careful when answering emails asking for personal information. Most merchants have a policy of never asking for personal or credit card information in an email as this is a common method of fraud known as phishing. A phishing email will often look like a legitimate email from a well-known merchant when in fact it is a fake email attempting to get you to enter personal data. Always email or call the merchant directly if you think an email that you received is an attempt at phishing.
Emailable Gifts
A popular new gift idea is the online or emailable gift card. Many merchants now offer an emailable gift option that sends a redemption code directly to the recipients inbox. The recipient can then use the code to shop at the merchant's online store. The great benefit of emailable gifts is that they are delivered instantly. They have become a perfect last minute gift option in recent years.
Buy Extra Gifts
Don't be caught empty handed. Keep gifts ready for that unexpected visitor or guest who brings you something. Or, for that party you didn't plan to go to, have a few hostess gifts wrapped and ready in a pinch.