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Smarter Shopping for the Holidays


Those of us not blessed with that creepy “I get all my holiday shopping done by Thanksgiving” gene are likely currently in crisis mode, facing overcrowded malls, credit card meltdown, long lines, bad music, and the kind of time-is-running-out panic that drives us to spend hundreds of dollars on useless crap that nobody wants to find under their tree. But before the most wonderful time of the year turns you into a Scrooge, check out these tips for smarter, saner holiday shopping.

1. If the environmental assault of the season’s frenzied consumerism is what’s got you down, check out TreeHugger’s gift list (treehugger.com). The choices are ranked from light to dark green depending on how Earth-friendly they are, and conveniently broken down according to whom you’re buying for. Jet-setter? Check. Outdoors lover? Check. Fashionista? Checkety-check.

2. If you got stuck with your third cousin twice removed in the annual family gift exchange, and the only detail you can recall about her is that the last time you saw her she had a distinct fondness for My Little Pony, consider a universal gift certificate from giftcertificates.com. They can be exchanged for credit at several different retailers, so you can let cuz choose where to spend it. Spafinder.com offers a similar service; their gift certificates are accepted at more than 4,000 spas worldwide.

3. If you must hit the mall (cringe!), be smart. Clothing retailers usually get new stock on Thursdays, and that’s when they mark down the old stuff and move it to the back of the store so they have room for the new shipments up front. Shop Thursday nights for freshie markdowns, and look in the back for the sale racks. Department stores tend to do the same thing on Saturdays, making room for the new goods advertised in Sunday newspapers, so hit those guys on Saturday nights for the best sale selection. Bonus: If you’re shopping on a Saturday night, it’s entirely appropriate to follow it up with a cocktail.

4. Hibernate until New Year. As long as the eggnog’s flowing, no one will miss you.

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