take it easy, don't get stressed!
Leave the kids and your partner at home!
stick to a list!
Honestly...my top tip for shopping...RELAX!!! It is just stuff, seriously...focus on family togetherness, food, and the reason for the season! Happy Christmas :)
Set a budget, but have it be a "max per person" budget, and if you find something awesome for cheaper (like on an awesome sale or with a sweet coupon) then don't feel compelled to spend the full amount-but make sure the full amount is an amount you really can afford to spend on each person (and don't feel like it has to be the same for each recipient!)
Biggest tip - BUDGET and Online shopping. Being in the store is sensory overload and too tempting!
Virtual assistant. No, seriously. I posted on Elance.com that I wanted someone to do 1-2 hours of online research for me regarding all my holiday shopping. I ultimately hired a highly-rated Indian company for $5/hour and simply provided them with my list of guidelines (i.e. price range, age of person, gift category). Two days later, they delivered to me a file with links to gift ideas for each person, and all I had to do was review and then buy the ones I liked most. Cost me $10, saved me time and stress, and I was able to enjoy family activities instead of spending my weekend doing research and shopping.
Relax - stores will be busy, items will be sold out - go with a good attitude and alternates for your shopping list and have snacks in the car and a bottle of water with you so you are able to stay refreshed and energized throughout the day of shopping!! Also, shop as much as possible online - many stores are offering free shipping and huge discounts and gifts with purchases this time of year - take advantage of it all - any shopping you can do at home - saves time in the stores, at the mall and on the road.
Remember most of all the reason for the season, love. Not gifts =)
My top tip is to shop responsibly. For some this will mean not using credit. For others it will mean not buying as much. And then for others it might mean only buying fair trade items.
If buying gift cards, check for bonuses from your favorite retailers.