Being in Costa Rica makes my usual Christmas shopping habits difficult. Online shopping is becoming harder due to Customs stopping nearly all packages, especially if they are obviously coming from a business. It means for online to work we have to plan months ahead.
If you're in the States or some other modern country, online is great. I'm not a big fan of shopping in the malls or other shops at Christmas time, but I think if you don't do that at least once you are really missing out on the Christmas spirit (or maybe it's a fever). And there really is no online substitute for being able to handle the merchandise up close and personal.
So, I'd plan on a four-fold approach:
1. Mostly online
2. One or two trips at least to the shops
3. Hit the after-season sales big-time, just hope you can remember where you put that stuff next year!
4. Make at least one gift per family member yourself, these can make lifelong memories.
Gad, is it really almost that time of year again....