First thing that I think is important is to make a list of who you must buy for. Next is great to surf the Internet for ideas. I also try to keep a list going all year not only for holidays but for birthdays and such. When possible I try to buy if I see something during the year, but if not possible I add to list. Right now that is what I am doing, seeing what is bought, who I have to buy for, and looking for ideas, which includes sitting down with my 3 boys and making lists.
For my boys we make 2 lists. One for Santa and one other I can give ideas to other or use myself. I like being able to just go in and grab. I also limit the boys to no more then 3 items to ask Santa for, though unfortunately I think I have 2 boys that no longer believe. This way I don't have to beat the payment looking for too much. I also hope it is teaching them not to be too greedy.
Over the years for financial reasons and the lack of ideas we have cut from our gift buying. I think it would be great for everyone to look over there lists and see where you can cut. You need to make life easier. I would much rather focus on family and friends then stressing on gifts. That is really how we all should be looking at the holidays. I know a day of shopping will put me in bed for days, so if I really don't need to get a gift I talk to those people and explain why not to buy for one another. I try to maybe make plans for a lunch or something. Spending time together is much more important then gifts.
I am also this year trying to shop locally some. Using the small unique shops close by that I can stop in real quick and not a huge shopping trip. There is a large push to help the economy buy using these places and since they are small and in the area where you already are it is not a huge drawn out process to pop in and look for gifts, and you are supporting your community and friends.
Another thing I am doing is checking with my friend that do crafts. I am looking at purchasing homemade items and such. A lot of this is either locally or online. Again an easy way to shop and usually the gifts are much nice then some mass produced items. Most of the time it can be custom made to exactly what you want. So think of buying from your friends that are crafty. I know I already have a few items to purchase that are homemade and all I need to do is order and it will be delivered to my door.
I hope some of the tips and ideas I have came across and have thought of to try and make Holiday shopping easier helps. Please share any and all tips you have learn to do while trying to take the pain and stress out of your Holiday shopping. It is great to help one another.