Early Christmas shopping doesn't have to be last-minute. If you have a plan set you can be more effective, save money, and enjoy the Christmas season more.
* Have a Budget.
Christmas presents should figure into your household or personal budget for the entire year, instead of just trying to find extra money somehow every November or December. You can always start by saving a small amount every month.
* Decide on Your Christmas List.
Some people only shop for close family and friends. Other people put together Christmas presents for co-workers, the postal worker, the dog walker, hairdresser, plumber, poker buddies, kid's teacher, and more. Decide on what you are comfortable with. Keep a general idea of how much you will spend on each person. For instance, you will likely spend more money on your immediate family than on a co-worker.
* Listen for Clues and Brainstorm Ideas.
Have a rough idea of what presents would please the people on your list. Brainstorm ideas, and them write them down with your list. Listen to the person or other people for ideas, and write them down too. Keep this list in an easy-to-carry form, like tucked away in your wallet or checkbook for quick reference.
* Christmas Shopping Can Start on Dec 26th.
You can start Christmas shopping for next year the day after Christmas.
Although you may feel the last thing you want to do is shop after the Christmas rush, stores often have incredible sales immediately after the holidays, and most items will be perfectly good gifts the next year. Check out sales throughout the year, such as end of summer. After-Christmas and Boxing Day sales are a good time to pick up wrapping paper and the like for the next year for a pittance.
Put off Procrastinating. Many people end up shopping last-minute because they put off the inevitable. Instead, make a plan with solid goals, dates, and timelines. (For instance, shopping will be done by Dec 20. I will put aside two evenings, twice a week for two weeks to accomplish this task.) Leave some wiggle-room in case something comes up, but don't keep making excuses. It can help to have someone who is good about shopping to keep you honest.
* Have a Shopping Plan.
Maybe you're not the type of person who likes shopping, or don't have the time to browse for Christmas presents all year long. Instead, put aside one period of time, like a weekend or a special shopping trip.
* Keep Track of Presents.
Don't lose the present or forget who you bought it for.
Have a designated area for presents, such as a tote, section of the closet, or attic. Be sure that the present won't be ruined by variations of temperature, humidity, mold, mice, and so on. Write the name of the designated gift-receiver on a removable sticker or piece of tape. That way you'll remember who you bought it for.