Toronto Star

Get ahead of the game

Holiday shopping begins by knowing what you want to buy and keeping tabs on discounts

- ANDREA JANUS SPECIAL TO THE SPECIAL

Holiday shopping season is set to kick into high gear and if you’re smart, you’re not just going to leave it to Santa to make a list and check it twice.

Getting organized is the key to completing your list, on time and on budget, with your sanity preserved.

You can start “by paying attention early,” says Tamara Glick, owner of Trademark Image Consulting, who is constantly shopping for and with clients, and keeping them focused on their goals.

Shops make it easy by putting their wares in their windows well before the holidays, Glick notes.

“It’s sort of advantageo­us to put the bug in our ear, because we can start paying attention to the things that our loved ones have been wanting,” Glick says. The earlier you start your gift list, the better chance you have of finding the right brand, style, size or colour than if you wait until the last minute. You may also score a deal.

“Items go on sale at different times of the year, so you can buy them and put them away for when the holidays come,” Glick says.

In fact, it’s a good idea to avoid December altogether, Glick says.

So-called “Black Friday” sales have made their way into Canada despite being a hallmark of the U.S. Thanksgivi­ng weekend. There are great deals to be had during this period. If you can weather the crowds, you may get the bulk of the work done before the end of November, and with a lot more budgetary wiggle room than you may have bargained for.

If you avoid crowds of any size, then brew a pot of coffee, cosy up on the couch and knock off your shopping list with just a few taps on your tablet or mobile phone.

If you know there are specific retailers that you will likely be purchasing from over the season, get on their email list ASAP so you don’t miss any sales or online exclusives, Glick recommends.

Shopping online can also help you stay within your budget, she adds.

“When you hit the mall, if you don’t go with a distinct list that you follow, then you have a tendency to go overboard because of course you’re in an environmen­t that is gearing you toward that,” Glick says.

“But if you are able to accomplish most of it in the comfort of your own home, you have a lot of options.”

These include adding items to your online “cart” as a way of putting them on hold, and then taking some time to think about whether they are indeed the right purchases. You also have time to search online for coupon codes before sealing the deal.

Want to save money on wrapping paper and time spent trying to tie that perfect bow? Most online shopping sites offer gift-wrapping services.

When your purchases arrive at home, just pop them under the tree, pour yourself some eggnog and congratula­te yourself on a job well done.

 ?? STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO ?? Start early and keep your eyes on the deals, as sales kick in at different times over the holiday shopping season.
STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO Start early and keep your eyes on the deals, as sales kick in at different times over the holiday shopping season.

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