Holiday shopping can become overwhelming and one way to ease shopping related stress is to approach your task with a plan. Here are some tips to help you stay calm amid the holiday frenzy.

* Make a budget and stick to it. The budget has to be in place before you go shopping. It’s helpful to come up with both an overall amount you want to spend and to determine how much you will spend for each individual. Stick to your budget. Unless you’ve already bought a gift under its budgeted amount, don’t start shuffling budget dollars. You’ll be glad to enforced your budget when the credit card statement arrives.
* Make a list. Even Santa Claus with his crew of elves and other worldly magical power works from a list. It helps keep your shopping efforts focused.
* Brainstorm before you shop. Knowing what you want before you head to the store will save hours of wandering in hopes of stumbling upon the perfect gift. Think about the hobbies, interest and favorite things of those on your list. Create a column for each person on your list and start writing ideas. Have other family members share their ideas. Then determine which gifts you will give and make sure that fit within your budget.
* Develop a shopping strategy. You don’t have to do all the shopping yourself. Recruit other family members to help. Use your list to make assignments. Prioritize which gifts are the most important and seek those first. Select a date by which you want to have your shopping completed and schedules shopping times on your calendar. Use your list to keep track of what has been bought and what you still need to shop for.
* Don’t overlook the details. Ask for gift receipts and make sure they’re included with the gift to avoid post holiday hassles. Find out what retailer’s return/refund policy is and if it is different at the holidays. If a gift must be shipped, be sure to allow enough time to arrive at its destination.
* Avoid the crowds. The earlier you can get start on your shopping, the better! You will have the best selection and won’t have to elbow your way through throngs of people.
* Remember that it is the thoughts that counts. Of course you want the perfect gift but that doesn’t mean there is just one single thing that will fit the bill. There are several things that would make a thoughtful gift and be well appreciated. Give you the pursuit of the perfect gift and go for one that conveys your thoughtfulness.