UNITED STATES—Can you believe it, Christmas is literally less than two weeks away? Have you purchased any of those gifts on your list? If not, don’t fret, we have some tips to assist you. Last week we talked about the importance of gift giving and not placing stress on yourself to go above and beyond when it comes to the festive holiday.

This week we turn our attention to the notion of shopping. Who are the better shoppers? Is it men or women? I guess it depends on who you ask. For most men, it’s simple: I know what I want, I go get it and I’m on my way. With women a bit more thought or patience goes into the process. They don’t like to rush things; at least that’s what I’ve learned from the many women in my family. I mean does it really take 2 hours to purchase one pair of jeans?

If the plan is to take care of all your shopping in one trip, which is possible, you have to implement a plan. First know who you’re buying for. Is it a kid, a teen, an adult or an elder? This helps to determine what store or stores would best fit your outing.

Next, as discussed last week, decide what the budget will be. Set it, and stick with it. The biggest problem with shopping is we always venture off our list and purchase items that weren’t on the list to begin with. This is a common tactic many retailers utilize against customers. By placing those food snacks right near the register, or those token items that just aren’t selling, the retailer knows how to catch your eye.

An important tip to remember, if you ever have a single doubt about purchasing an item that means you shouldn’t be buying it to begin with.  When you waiver it’s a sign that it’s something you don’t want. I’ve been guilty of it; buying something and then later regretting it. What’s funny? I knew the moment that the purchase was about to be processed I didn’t want it.

Do not be afraid to do this? Why feel bad? We’re all allowed the opportunity to have a second opinion, especially if you purchase an item from a retailer where the return policy is limited in scope.

Timing is everything. This might be one of the big ones. Choosing the appropriate time to head to the shopping mall or the big box retailers is crucial. Have you heard of the phrase the early bird always gets the worm. That so holds true! It allows you to shop freely without the stress of dealing with slow moving customers, long lines or the inability to move freely throughout the store.

Should you get to your destination right before opening time? Hmm, that depends. I would say if you are planning to do some all day shopping than absolutely. That gives you the opportunity to take your time and get all the items you want and get a head start against the late bloomers. Be sure to take breaks between your shopping to refuel your energy so you don’t get tired or exhausted. Rule of thumb, keep the food items light, nothing heavy, but also nothing too fatty, greasy or sugary.

The one thing that is always consistent when it comes to shopping holiday season or not is patience is key! Have fun, shop smart and stay energized.