Ease Holiday Stress by Planning Ahead

'Tis the season … almost. But it'll be here before you know it! And while it's a fun time, filled with family and friends and food, it is also one of the more stressful times of year. One way to ease that stress is being prepared, and by that I mean, start shopping. NOW!

Well, at the very least begin planning your holiday purchases. Brainstorm gift ideas for everyone on your list and start researching. Once you have decided on on a gorgeous Bulova watch for your husband, for example, a dazzling blue diamond ring for your beloved wife, or a Wii console for the kids, the next step is to go comparison shopping. Deals are to be had and you have to take more than price into consideration when purchasing online. Remember to include taxes and shipping costs. One site might offer a rockbottom price, but charge an exorbitant shipping rate that makes your great gift more expensive than if you'd gone with the higher-priced place that had low-cost or free shipping.

You can save time and energy getting your gifts by using comparison shopping sites such as Pricegrabber, Shopzilla and Nextag, to name but a few. You've probably heard of them.

But what if you're wanting to compare cameras and camera accessories, say, for your favorite cousin in Canada? I just learned that www.Canadapost.ca has a comparison shopping section that includes deals from retailers across the border and the U.S., too. It provides lots of information, including price history, customer service numbers, warranty details and more. And my Canadian readers will benefit from the Cross-Border Comparison tab, which spells out if they're better off getting the item they're looking for from a local shop or one in the States.

The important thing, and I can't, um, stress this enough, is to get moving on your gift-buying! While everyone else is frantic as the holidays draws near, schlepping from store to store, fighting crowds and standing in long lines, you can kick back and relax knowing your holiday goods are wrapped and ready to go.

How do you ease holiday stress? I'd love to hear from you!

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