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Secrets of savvy shoppers

Great tips to be the best shopper you can be

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There’s no reason to panic when it comes to the holiday shopping season. Instead of dreading all the gift buying, embrace the spirit of Santa; put on your elf shoes, and jingle those bells. Here are some tips from some of the most successful shoppers I know:

”My biggest shopping secret is actually a well-known fact in my family,” says New York fashion designer Carmen Marc Valvo. “I shop for Christmas presents all throughout the year. I’m always circling items in catalogs, shopping the sales rack when I’m on trunk shows at Neiman Marcus or Saks, and bidding on silent-auction items at the various charity events I attend. I have a large extended family, and I would never have time to shop for them if I waited until after Thanksgiving. I start wrapping presents in October and color-code the gifts by family with a little sticker on the bottom of each package.”

Jenna Lyons, creative director of J. Crew, loves to give gifts that keep on giving. “One of my favorite gifts is magazine subscriptions,” she says. She recommends Bon Appétit for the chef in your life, Cookie for new-mom friends, and Teen Vogue for aspiring stylists. She also has a great idea for the guys on your shopping list: a tie of the month from J. Crew.

Here are some other “tips” from savvy shoppers:

  • Never shop at the last minute. If you can get a head start on your holiday shopping, you usually will benefit from not overspending.
  • Decide where you’re going to shop. If you’ve got a wide variety of people on your holiday list, the mall may be your best destination. However, if you’re shopping for your supper club friends, then you may need to head to a specialty foods store.
  • Beware of sales. I know we all love to get a bargain in tough economic times, but when shopping for a gift, think twice before you are tempted by an impulse buy just because it’s a “deal.”
  • Don’t shop when you’re depressed. We all know that this is not a good time to do anything, except maybe window-shop to get ideas.
  • Make a list. It’s Shopping 101, but often we spend endless hours looking for the “perfect” gift and wandering around endlessly. Keep a small notebook all year long with your wish lists.
  • And my favorite tip? It’s fun to play Santa, but be good to yourself, too. Don’t be afraid to splurge on a little something for you. Enjoy the spirit of giving even more!
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