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  1. To feel in control, stick a master to-do list on your refrigerator. Stash favorite recipes and gift ideas in an envelope; browse web sites for inspiration and print out any possibilities.
  2. While the family is gathered, ask them for gift suggestions for other relatives and draw names for the holiday-present exchange. Also, get address updates for holiday cards. (If you need to gather more addresses from friends and relatives who aren't there, send a mass e-mail later.)
  3. While you're taking down the Thanksgiving table, note if you need new dishes, tablecloths, candles or napkins, and add those things to your list now. Keep an eye out for department store sales on any missing items. If you need to replace a few pieces of china, check eBay, where you can often find single dishes at cut-rate prices.
  4. Buy stamps at www.usps.com. Address cards over a few weeks so you don't get burnt out. Mark the day you want to mail them in big letters on your calendar.
  5. If you've ever been slammed with last-minute shopping or decorating tasks, you know how fast the Christmas season can sneak up on you. Holiday expenses can do that, too. Getting caught up in the spirit means you sometimes focus more on presents and parties―and less on budgets. But there's nothing worse than a financial hangover come the new year, so we've developed a plan to help keep your spending on track. Follow our guide to creating and maintaining a budget, and you'll find you can manage your costs and still have plenty of time to savor the season.
  6. 6 WEEKS TO GO!Hit the Web early to compare prices and take advantage of cheaper shipping. To save on postage, choose sites that waive shipping fees or those that combine multiple items into one order. TIP: Zappos.com, AbeBooks and Gotfruit.com offer free shipping on every order; Amazon sends multiple items in as few shipments as possible.
  7. With fuel costs rising, holiday travel is growing more expensive. Compare airfare with driving: Fuelcostcalculator.com lets you figure out the cost of your drive at current gas prices.TIP: Check out kayak.com. It searches travel sites to find cheap airfares and charts ticket prices by day, so you know when to buy.
  8. If you enjoy making gifts, begin this week so you can pace yourself instead of rushing through them.TIP: Theartfulcrafter.com has hundreds of ideas, from kid-friendly projects to more complicated crafts like knitting.
  9. Americans left nearly $8 billion unused on gift cards last year. Give your budget a bump by cashing in yours. Sites like cardavenue.com and plasticjungle.com let you sell gift-card balances for a small fee.TIP: Buy gift cards at a discount at either site.
  10. Craigslist and Kijiji offer merchandise from thousands of local sellers. Always haggle; you should end up paying around 20 percent less than a seller's asking price. You save on shipping, too, since you pick up the items yourself.TIP: For no-budget gifts, Craigslist's "free stuff" listings are worth a look.