It’s five days before Christmas (or was Tuesday when I wrote this), so seems appropriate to share some tips, trips and secrets I’ve learned about shopping around the holidays.

-When shopping between now and New Year’s you have to mentally prep yourself in advance to face the crowds and the frustration-inducing confusion. I’ve found wearing an ipod calms me when fighting my way through busy shops and makes the long lines seem to go a lot faster.

-If you’re buying something that you’re not sure the recipient will really like because ‘they can always just return or exchange it,’ probably best to just get a gift card. After Christmas sales are great, but when gifts are returned with tags and no receipt, they’ll get the sale price rather than what you paid.

-Can’t stand stores at all? There’s still a few days you can shop online and have your ordered express mailed – or hire a personal shopper! You can probably find one easily enough on the web or craigslist but it’s also a good seasonal job to offer people you know for a bit of extra cash. I did it one season just because I like to shop – whether it’s for me or other people.

-Favorite gift of the week: The universal spa gift certificate! You can get the purchase the cards at places like Walgreens and find out participating spas at spafinder.com

-Buy a case of moderately-priced wine to keep around the house. A $12 bottle of wine is always an appropriate gift to bring to a holiday party at someone’s home and you never know when one may pop up last minute – and when it’s cold outside it’s always nice to have a nice bottle of red to uncork yourself.

-And, finally, keep a few classy candles on-hand for the times you receive an unexpected gift and need to appear to have something to give in return 😉 xo

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