You forgot, you didn’t have time or you just kept putting it off. Whatever the reason is, you are now forced to do last minute Christmas shopping. The few days leading up to Christmas day is the most nerve-racking for shoppers because everybody is in a rush and on the verge of panicking. If you think you’re one of them, then check out these tips for a less stressful shopping experience.

1.       Come prepared. Arm yourself for the battle – make a Christmas list so you can easily keep track of your purchasing progress. Even Santa Claus had one. You should at least have an idea what to give each person on your list so you don’t end up buying the wrong things which you’d have to return later.

2.       Shop with ease. Stuff your wallet with the right amount of cash and credit cards. Too little can be a hassle when you run out of money; too much can be risky knowing that pickpockets are lured by big holiday crowds. Wear comfortable shoes so your feet can last long hours of walking and don a warm jacket that isn’t too bulky because it may limit your movement.

3.       Keep track of time. Time constraint is the number one issue when shopping at the last minute. Don’t get too worked up with one item on your list. If you can’t find it, then move on to the next one. Focus on your task by eliminating unnecessary browsing (for yourself) and wandering aimlessly to make the most out of your day.

4.       Shop away from the crowd. Instead of rubbing elbows (literally) with other Christmas rush shoppers, visit less crowded places to avoid long checkout lines. These are stores where people least expect to buy a gift from such as the pharmacy, pet supply store or a hardware store.

5.       Skip the deliverables. Online shopping days before Christmas is only recommended for electronically delivered goods like e-gift certificates or music downloads. Anything tangible bought online is bound to get caught in postal traffic. So if you want your recipient to get your present on Christmas day, hit the physical stores rather than those online.

6.       Shop early. It’s ironic but even if you’re already late in the game, you can still get ahead (at least with other last-minute shoppers) by arriving early at the store or mall. Being early guarantees that you get a good parking spot, freshly stocked and organized shelves to browse from, and less people at the checkout line.

7.       Stick to your budget. You may not get exactly what you originally had in mind for each person on your list, so just remember that when giving gifts, it’s the thought that counts. Don’t feel guilty buying the cheaper item when the value of the gift is more that what you have originally allotted for.

Don’t worry if the holiday fever just caught up with you. It only happens once a year so it’s never too late to do last-minute Christmas shopping for your friends and loved ones.