12 10 shopping holiday tips organize gift list deals 1Make holiday gift-buying a stress-free cinch with tips from a shopping expert.

“Shopping can be incredibly overwhelming,” says Your Shop Girl, Suzanne Colmer (www.yourshopgirl.com), Toronto-based personal shopper extraordinaire. “However, when you spend your life shopping for other people you learn a thing or two about how to shop quickly and effectively.”

Read her insider advice for crossing everyone off your list so you can have hassle-free visits to the mall.

1) Make a list (and stick to it!)

Always have a list. “This will not only keep you on track, it will also allow you to save an exorbitant amount of time,” says Colmer.

Try using a phone app like Better Christmas List ($0.99, iTunes) which can track the number of gifts you need to buy, who you’re buying for, how much you plan to spend on each present, and a way to track whether you’ve wrapped or mailed a gift yet.

2) Keep gifts simple

“Not sure what to buy for someone? Think about what they like to do in their spare time and don't make it too complicated,” recommends Colmer. “When in doubt an experience gift is always appreciated. Whether you plan a day to be tourists in your own town, join a class together, or just head out for a great lunch, it will be a gift you both can enjoy.”

For fashion-forward friends, Colmer says that “a cashmere blend scarf will be a hit with anyone who appreciates accessories.” Score your pal a sweet bag or precious piece of jewellery from a flash sale site like Gilt.com, Myhabit.com or Hautelook.com for a fraction of the regular cost.

For your artistic, creative friends check out sites like Etsy or Pinterest for original, one-of-a-kind gift ideas.

Have a friend or family member that likes to travel? “Buy them a gorgeous framed photograph of somewhere they have visited,” says Colmer.

When buying for an acquaintance, or that person who has everything, the perfect catchall presents includes food and drink. “Try putting together a bottle of wine and a local artisan cheese board with a gift certificate for a local cheese boutique,” says Colmer.

3) Research before heading out to get the best prices

Once you have an idea of the gifts you want to buy, do a quick Google search to see what the prices are online, and check through weekly flyers to see if there are any deals on, suggests Colmer. “I also set up an email address just for store newsletters so once I know what I am looking for I can check through my emails to see if there are any promotions on.”

If you plan to shop early enough, online shopping can also be a fantastic option for finding great deals (just leave yourself plenty of time for shipping). “Look for sites that offer free shipping to Canada and make sure to inquire about whether duties will be included,” says Colmer.

4) Create a plan of action

The best time to shop, according to Colmer, is first thing in the morning. So grab a coffee and wait outside those mall doors before they open. If you’re not able to go early, head out once you’ve had dinner to avoid the after work crowd. “If possible, I always recommend freestanding stores and boutiques over the mall since they tend to be less claustrophobic.”

5) Find ways to make shopping more enjoyable

Take some of the stress out of your shopping excursions by treating yourself. “Grab your favourite drink and a treat to start. I always feel as though my shopping trips have to be successful if they start with a latte and a truffle,” says Colmer.

The holidays can also be a good time to find great deals, so while you’re shopping for your friends and family don't be afraid to pick up a little something for yourself.

“Make sure that you don't fall prey to impulse buying,” warns Colmer. “Stick to classic items that you are missing from your wardrobe. Don’t get clothes that you aren't sure what to do with.” You may regret the purchase of yet another holiday dress if you have nowhere to wear it once the season is over.