So I woke up yesterday and saw that many national chains have started holiday shopping “sales.” One headline said, “black Friday starts on Halloween this year.” Cray-Cray — Seriously, Cray-Cray! Did I hop on the ads and look at what they had? Of course I did. Did I think about holiday stress? Of course I did. Am I happy to start shopping right now — of course I am not definitively happy about it — but I can define that I am not definitively unhappy about it — and I will take a quick peek at the sales anyway. How about you?

Holiday shopping can be a stressful experience. It’s easy to get caught up in the last-minute frenzy of the season. There are endless lines, rushes for deals, and plenty of fatigue. Holiday shopping can make it difficult to even enjoy the season itself, which is a real shame. Thankfully, there are great ways to avoid holiday stress by shopping earlier in the year.

First, though, it’s important to understand annual sales cycles. But skip to the bottom to get “outside the box” holiday ideas. Annual sales cycles are basically done at certain times of the year when particular items are cheaper. A recurring theme you’ll see, for example, is clothes. Clothes are almost always cheaper to buy when the season they’re relevant in is over. So if you want to pick up a new winter jacket, you’ll get the best price in spring.

In general, it’s cheaper to buy things when they’re not as useful anymore. With that in mind, it will be easier for you to find great deals earlier in the year for the holidays later. So I bought the sledding tubes for the cabin at the end of the year last year, and boots and gloves were less (A LOT LESS) then.

Here are some of the best deals through the seasons to save you stress and money.

Wonderful Winter Wins

Ahh, January. The holidays have come and gone, and so too has the shopping rush. So it’s finally time to kick back and relax, right? Nope — time for more shopping!

In all seriousness, if you haven’t tried shopping after the holiday season, it’s great. Not only are there abundant deals, but it’s usually a much less stressful experience as well. That’s because, like you, most people are burnt out from the holiday rush. You also might be a bit tight on cash. So it will take some willpower and budgeting ahead of time, but shopping a whole year in advance can really pay off.

After the holidays, most stores are trying to offload excess products. Everything from toys to fitness equipment to candles could be up to 90%, depending on the sale. And those are just the things you actually gift — don’t forget about the wrapping! That’s right, tons of stores will be swamped in unsold gift wrapping and holiday decorations. It’s quite literally the perfect time to stock up for the next year.

And don’t forget about the clothes! Any remaining fall coats, scarves, and boots will have been on sale for a while now. This kind of seasonal clothing deal applies to every season, but the post-winter season is one of the best. Fall and winter clothes are often heavier and more expensive, so there are often better-value deals.

Sweet Spring Steals

If you went out shopping after the holidays and saw some deals on winter items, now is when they really kick in. Once winter has truly passed in March and April, you’ll start to see pretty major deals cropping up like spring flowers. Keep your eyes out for equipment like skis, snowboards, snowshoes, helmets, and other sporting goods. These are big-ticket items that can really rack up a bill, so this is a great time to shop for alpine lovers.

April is national car care month, so it’s time to pay a visit to your local dealership. Usually, car deals are focused more on cleaning supplies and miscellaneous items. But sometimes, these deals can extend to the cars themselves. It can also be a good time to shop for different decals, paints, and other augmentations. It can be hard to shop for cars, but this is the month to do it.

Mother’s Day is in May, which means spring is the perfect time to shop for the women in your life. Clothes are an obvious pickup, but you can find everything from makeup to fake nails to perfumes on sale. Think outside the box, and you’ll also find deals on bath and bedding supplies, baby supplies, and anything else mom-related. Just because it’s Mother’s Day doesn’t mean you only have to shop for mom when you’re shopping in advance.

Sizzling Summer Sales

Summer is a great time for holiday shopping. You’re now firmly as far away from the holiday season as possible. This means your only other true competition for holiday shopping will be other early birds. But don’t worry; there are enough worms to go around. The obligatory spring clothing sales get a mention here, but summer has a host of other great shopping opportunities.

Father’s Day is in June, which, just like Mother’s Day, means it’s a great time to shop for guys. You can pick up ties, suits, cufflinks, and other formal wear. There will also be tons of deals on other, more casual clothes. But also think dude accessories like electronics, gadgets, and sports equipment. And the ever-increasing popularity of drones may spark some deals for content creators.

Post-Fourth of July is an excellent time to shop. All manner of BBQ materials, from charcoal to grills themselves, will be on sale. You can also pick up fireworks that you can use to celebrate the holidays later on! July and August also start the back-to-school season, so dorm goods and school supplies are on the menu. Look hard enough, and you can find deals all summer long.

Awesome Autumn Acquisitions

The fall season can be tricky because everyone knows the holidays are coming. On the one hand, there are deals everywhere. On the other, you’re not the only one going for them. So if your main goal is to avoid holiday shopping stress, pick and choose your battles.

October is national book month, so you can pick up best sellers from earlier in the year on the cheap. A great holiday gift idea is to buy a book for your whole family or friend group to read together. It’s a great bonding experience made much more affordable by picking up your paperbacks now. This year (2022), Amazon is holding another Prime Day. Not only can you order books, but virtually anything else you might want.

Avoid Holiday Stress

Avoid Holiday Stress

The infamous Black Friday follows Thanksgiving in November, and Cyber Monday comes on the Monday immediately following Thanksgiving. You can find some of the best sales all year on these days, but be careful. Shopping on these days is some of the most stressful of the whole year. They encourage mob mentality, and people have gotten physically injured in a rush. Thankfully, most stores offer online sales as well, so you can still take advantage of incredible deals while keeping yourself safe.

Once December rolls around, it’s officially the holiday season — but you will have less stress if you are done with your shopping long before December first. There will probably be fewer deals overall, but there are still some to find. Thankfully, you did most of your shopping before December, so you can relax and enjoy the season.

Think Outside the (Gift) Box

Another way to go about doing your holiday shopping is to forgo buying items altogether and spend your money on experiences instead. Talk with your loved ones during this holiday season. Take a vote to see if people would rather have an experience than things this time around. You can all save money together to share an experience that everyone will remember for years to come.

Here are a few ideas of experiences during the winter holidays. Sledding. Visiting Central Park in New York in the Snow. Going to the Ice Sculpture event in Fair Banks, Alaska. What about having a quiet holiday at home and then renting a cabin for a week and skiing in the Rockies in January? I like to ask for ideas from the fam and then fulfill those wishes in the coming years when they will be surprised.

It’s no secret that holiday shopping can be stressful. But it doesn’t have to be. No matter how you go about shopping for the holidays, focus on being proactive. The more proactive you are, the more stress, money, and time you’ll save in the long run. That way, you can enjoy the holidays to the fullest, making memories with the ones you love.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jill Wellington; Pexels; Thank you!

Inner Image Credit: Photo by Photo by Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!