It's the most wonderful — and busiest — time of the year. The holidays are upon us, and it's likely that you may be starting to panic. How can we working moms fit one more thing into our busy, hectic lives? Yes, we love the joy of gift giving, but the actual process can be overwhelming. Take a deep breath and follow these tips to help you fit in your holiday shopping.

Plan Ahead

Some of us are spur-of-the-moment kinds of people who hate making lists and checking them twice. But a little preparation will help to lessen the stress of holiday shopping. Start by jotting down the names of the people you'd like to buy presents for. If you're lucky, the kids have already made their wish list for Santa. If not, a little sleuthing will help you to determine what it is they really want this year. As for your friends and extended family, some thoughtful brainstorming will help you to figure out the kinds of gifts that will make them smile. Having a plan is always a time saver.

Budget and Prioritize

Once you've determined which people you'll be buying for, you'll need to come up with a budget. Decide what amount you're able to spend and are comfortable with. Doing so will lessen the chance of falling for those tempting impulse purchases. Holiday shopping shouldn't cause you guilt or discomfort. Remember, you don't have to buy gifts for everyone. Coming up with a budget will aid in narrowing down your list of gift recipients.

Divide and Conquer

Holiday shopping often falls to the woman of the household, but don't feel you have to be responsible for every aspect of it. Enlist the help of those around you to lessen the burden and stress that comes with this time of year. If you have a partner or spouse, ask them to either help with some of the shopping or watch the kids while you shop. A good tactic may be to ask hubby to stay home with the children while you head out late at night to a store that's open 24/7 in order to avoid the crowds. You may also want to ask you friends to lend a helping hand. Take turns watching each other's kids so you each can get some shopping done. This strategy also applies to baking, wrapping, and all the other tasks that come with the holidays.

Don't Leave Home

The malls and big box stores are already busier than usual. Some of us may just want skip them altogether. That's the beauty of the internet. Everyone is having sales, even online retailers, and Cyber Monday is just around the corner. So why not scope out the good deals online and avoid the hustle and bustle? There are numerous websites that compile promo codes to add to retailers' already reduced prices, and most places are offering free shipping for the season. You can shop in your PJs at any time of the day that works for you. Buying online just makes sense for so many busy people.

These are just a few things to keep in mind when taking on holiday shopping. It truly is a special and wonderful time of year. Don't let the shopping experience put a damper on things for you.

What are your strategies for finding time to shop for the holidays?

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