shopping

Never set foot in a mall again around the holidays! Learn how to check off everyone on your list online instead.

Shopping for the holidays can be an ordeal, but we asked Your Shop Girl, Suzanne Colmer (www.yourshopgirl.com), to give us her tips for finding the best online deals and gifts.

1. Start shopping early...or late

As long as know who you want to buy for, Colmer suggests starting your holiday shopping for next year right after the holidays end. "The best deals are always in January, so it's a great time to pick up presents for the following year. Otherwise, as soon as Halloween ends, online stores start to offer really great deals for Holiday shoppers," she says.

2. Get exclusive deals on members only websites

There are exclusive, members-only websites with steep discounts on designer brands you love. Some of Colmer's favourites include Gilt.com, Beyondtherack.com, Hautelook.com, Ideeli.com, Myhabit.com and Zulily.com. To prevent becoming overwhelmed by so many deals, Colmer says, "The key is to know what you're looking for and not to venture too far off your list. Just make sure you leave yourself plenty of time for delivery when you order since the websites often act as a middle-man for retailers."

3. Find one of kind gifts

Just because something is available online, doesn't mean it can't be special. "I love sites that showcase local artists. Etsy.com is an amazing website for original finds for gifts. They are often really affordable as well. The great thing about buying from an entrepreneur is they will go out of their way to make you happy and ensure that everything arrives on time," says Colmer.

If you're buying for the person who has everything, try offering him or her the chance to try something new, suggests Colmer. "I am a big fan of experience gifts, so websites like trythat.ca are great for finding gifts that people might not necessarily buy for themselves."

4. Search for online coupon codes

Colmer recommends using Google to search for coupon codes from your favourite online shops. "Retailmenot.com is one of my favourite places to find great discounts for some of my favourite websites," says Colmer, who also recommends creating a separate email account specifically for shopping sites so that your inbox isn't overwhelmed by eblasts and you can peruse them when you're ready.

5. Know how treat yourself, too

Colmer suggests that before buying online you should try on pieces from your favourite brands in their stores so you know how they fit. "For example, if I'm buying a new pair of jeans (which is a very hard thing to do online!) I will generally try them on in the store and write down the style numbers so I can compare prices online and wait for a sale or coupon code," says Colmer.

To gauge whether or not a piece seen online will work for you in real life, Colmer suggests asking yourself the following questions: Does it camouflage where you want to camouflage and showcase what you want to accentuate? Do the colours match the other pieces in your wardrobe? What is the cost per wear (meaning will you get a lot of use out of it)? Is it made of natural fibres? Does it have stretch in it?

Pattern is also important to consider when buying online. "If you have dark hair and light skin opt for high contrast coloured patterns; if your hair and skin are a similar colour, try a low contrast patterns," says Colmer.

Colmer also says that you can never go wrong with classic pieces, which will never go out of style and can be found at amazing prices on off season's sales. "Overall, just make sure it is something you would still want even if it wasn't on sale," she says.