Electronic Elves: 4 Tech Tips to Help With Holiday Shopping

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“As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December’s bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same.” – Donald E. Westlake 

If you’re anything like me, this holiday season has taken you by complete surprise…just like it did last year and the year before that. But before you become totally overwhelmed by the amount of shopping, wrapping and card-sending you have to do – take a look at a few ways I plan to lean on technology to keep me feeling festive and focused on the most important part of the holidays: my loved ones.

A List to Rival Santa’s

Ever stop yourself from buying a present early in the year because you’re afraid you won’t remember you that bought it when the holidays roll around? We’ve all been there, but gone are the days of scribbling down inspired gift ideas on napkins and then shoving them in your purse. With apps like Springpad you can keep an organized and accessible holiday shopping list all year long. Save links or make notes about what you’ve gotten (or plan to get) for each person and when Thanksgiving hits – you won’t be scrambling around with a blank slate.

Savvy Shopping

Especially when shopping online, it can be hard to figure out if you’re getting a good deal. Base prices are often ‘adjusted’ by processing, shipping and handling fees, making it difficult to tell exactly how much you’ll be charged. Google’s Shopping section will compare the price of any item you plan to buy. It also shows you a breakdown of any additional fees each individual site might charge you, so you know exactly how much you’re spending. Best of all, it will tell you where you might buy things in person locally if you’ve realized you don’t have time to wait for something to ship.

Hostess Help

You’re running out the door to a holiday party and suddenly realize you don’t have a gift. Sure, you could pick up a boring old bottle of wine or you could turn to tech to save the day. Use apps like Giftly or Facebook Gifts to send something electronically and instantly. By the time you arrive, your hosts will be greeting you with a big smile. Even better? You could get into the habit of scheduling your gift to be sent in advance. Now you have nothing to worry about but what to wear (what does “Smart Casual” mean, anyway?).

Better Budgeting

Sometimes the most stressful part of the holidays can be keeping track of your budget as you celebrate the season. Financial management tools like Manilla.com can help you see all of your bills and balances in one place so you always know what you owe and how much you can spend. We all know that the presents and impressive spreads aren’t what this season is all about. When you take control of your spending, you’re able to focus more on giving and sharing joy – which is the perfect and preferred gift for anyone on your list.

So there you have it! With these handy apps in your arsenal, you still have time to conquer your 2013 holiday shopping (although if you’re Jewish, shalom aren’t you glad you’re all done?). Make your list, check it twice and remember that this time of year is supposed to be filled with fun, love and gratitude – and yes, there is an app for that, too.

Happy Holidays!

Carley Knobloch is obsessed with helping people use technology to make life easier (and more fun).  As a Today Show contributor and HGTV host, she explores the world of home control and makes tech accessible to even the least savvy.  On her blog,CarleyK.com, she helps busy women navigate the modern world beautifully and efficiently.  

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