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  • Don't spend randomly. Set a limit for gifts—and stick to it.
  • Do talk with your children before the season begins about realistic expectations. With all the TV commercials they see, it's easy for them to expect too much and to be disappointed.
  • Do use a personal shopper if you can afford one, or buy presents online.
  • Don't hesitate to buy the same gift for several people on your list—as long as they don't know one another, who cares?
  • Do take one vacation day early in the holiday season to get all your shopping finished so you can avoid the crowds and the 11th-hour pressure.
  • Do talk with friends and family about gift alternatives. They may love the idea of, say, exchanging services ("I'll help you clean your closets, you help me build bookshelves"), or pooling gift money and donating to a cause, or springing for a day trip instead.
  • Do cut down on time at the post office. Suggest, for those living far away, that instead of giving gifts now, you exchange them later in the year when you see each other.
 

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