Holiday time is upon us, which means fighting the crowds at stores in order to get gifts for everyone that you love. It's definitely a stressful time, and if you don't have a game plan it becomes an even worse experience. After working in retail for nearly four years, and being an avid shopper myself, I've learned the best techniques on conquering the holiday shopping season with minimal pain. I've put together my best tips to help everyone during this stressful time. 

Buy Online When Possible
Online stores usually offer better sales than their brick-and-mortar counterparts and have a better stock selection. Not to mention you avoid the crowds at the mall and the hassle of waiting in line. Online retailers usually offer free shipping promotions around this time of year, too, and have the last day to order to get your package by Christmas posted on their site, making it beyond easy to shop!

Don't Wait to Buy
Because of how busy it is this time of year, stores stop receiving new stock because they simply don't have the time to process it. If you wait until the last minute to do your shopping, a lot of things will be out of stock in the size or color you want. That's why it's best to do your shopping early, and don't hesitate to get something if you like it. It's better to buy something and return it because you found something better than wait and it go out of stock.

Be Nice to Associates!
I know it can be frustrating when there's a long line and only one person at the cash register, but yelling at the associate will do nothing but ruin their day. Personally speaking, if a shopper is nice to me, I will go the extra mile in helping them. Whether that means digging through all the extra stock in back to find the size you need, or calling every store in the area to locate the item you want. Being nice will definitely pay off. And just remember, if a worker seems grumpy, they are probably on hour 7 of their shift working for the 10th straight day. It's not their fault and they are spending time away from their family to help you, so be kind please.

Prepare Your Coupons Ahead of Time
If you are savvy enough of a shopper to have coupons, make sure you pull them out before you get to the register. Spending five minutes digging through your bag or scrolling through your email to find it is only going to annoy the worker and every other person in line. 

Get to the Mall Early
The earlier you get to the stores, the less busy they'll be. This means that the store will still be clean and manageable, so you can shop easier, and there will still be spots open in the parking lot. Getting to the mall at 10 might seem brutal, but when you see all the cars circling around looking for spots later on, you'll be happy with your decision.

Donate If You Can
A lot of stores collect donations for charities around this time of year. I know it gets annoying getting asked everywhere, but every little bit helps. A lot of stores let you donate your change, which means no heavy coins lugging you down, and a small donation is going to help someone in need. The holidays are a fun time, but there are people who need a little extra help to get by. If you aren't in a place that you have money to spare and donate, a simple 'no thank you' works. Don't get angry with the worker or tell them that you need the money more than St. Jude's does.

Hopefully you found these tips helpful and beneficial, and be sure to comment any that you have!

Happy Holidays!

Published by Molly Griffin