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Imagine a December without the rush of holiday shopping and wrapping gifts and stressing out over whether your budget is going to stretch to get everything on your list. This December can be a reality, provided you get busy with Christmas shopping now. There are plenty of creative ways to get done with your shopping early and save lots of money. All of these should help you enjoy the holiday season more because you won’t be worrying as much about shopping.

Shop All Year: If you shop regularly throughout the year, keep an eye out for sales on items that people on your usual Christmas list would enjoy. Especially for people you’re close to, like your spouse, kids, and parents, you should have an easy time finding at least one thing during the year on sale that they will absolutely love. Stash all of these gifts in a secret hiding spot (or not so secret, as long as everybody knows they are not allowed, under any circumstances, to look there) to make sure you know exactly where the gifts are when it’s time to give them.

Use Layaway Programs: If there’s a big-ticket item on your list, like a Wii for your kids, don’t wait until the last minute to buy it. Go ahead and put it on layaway now, taking advantage of the lowered fees many retailers are offering this year. Then you can chip away at the cost throughout the season and avoid having to put it on your credit card and pay a ridiculous amount on interest. If you know how much you need to put toward it each week to get it by Christmas, you’ll be extra motivated to make it happen.

Find Early Bird Sales: Online retailers in particular have been launching their holiday sales even before Black Friday, so shop now to get some great deals on holiday gifts. Of course, you can go on Black Friday as well, but be ready to fight the crowds if you go then or at other times between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Shopping earlier ensures you’ll get the best selection and be able to get in and out with all of the gifts on your list. Plus, you won’t have to be as stressed during December because your shopping will all be done!

Shop Quickly: Make a list before you head out to the stores and stick to it to avoid impulse buys. Many shoppers are prone to buy things for themselves while they’re shopping for others, which can get expensive. Stick to your list, and go just to the stores that will have the items you’re looking for, hitting as few stores as possible to minimize the time it takes to shop. If you’re on a mission with a time constraint, you’ll be less likely to dawdle and find things for yourself. You can even shop online to avoid temptation on your way to the cash register.

Christmas shopping doesn’t have to break the bank or leave you with credit card debt heading into the new year. Some careful planning will help you get everything on your list well before Christmas and have it all paid for as well. This allows you to relax and enjoy the fun parts of the season rather than stressing about buying and paying for those last-minute gifts. Christmas should be about your time with family and friends, not your time at the mall, so remember that as you plan your shopping strategy and get started!