Each year around this time (holiday season), we become overwhelmed by all sorts of messages intended to encourage us to buy…oh, I don’t know, let’s just say…something! What is the gadget of the year? What’s the must-have item occupying the top slot on everyone’s wish list? (Hint to the folks in my life who care about such matters, let’s just say for me, it rhymes with “sky tad” or “spindle”).

However, there’s a challenge facing shoppers these days. You see, with Black Friday rapidly approaching and door buster opportunities being foisted in front of our collective kissers at this very moment, how can a shopper know which is the right item to buy? Now, to clarify, the right item is the one that has it all. You know the one. It has that magic combo offering the best value along with all of those cool features that shoppers crave. Here are three tips to help avoid that dreaded demon post-purchase dissonance while shopping this holiday season.

1. Be sure to try before you buy.
More and more retailers these days are focused on the shopping experience and they know that one of the best ways to convert a prospect to a sale is by letting that person explore the product features. Make sure you spend some time in a shop where you can play with that new product and really put it through its paces.

2. Do your homework.
Research, research and research some more. Honestly, you are reading this message on the internet. The internet: the place where you can find anything about anything-literally. Search for product reviews and see what you come up with. You may be surprised at what you find, but remember it’s better to be surprised before you buy rather than afterward.

3. Ask a friend.
Do you know anyone who has what it is you are looking for? If so, what do they think of it? Where’d did they find it and did they think it was a good deal? I’m not suggesting you treat your friends and family like they are Consumer Reports, but they may be a resource that could help to confirm or refute the information you learned through your research.

Black Friday and the holiday shopping season can be a hectic time of year. Hopefully, it won’t be so hectic that you lose out on some of the fun that can be had with friends and family. Try to keep these tips in mind and share them with others. Who knows, you may even wind up receiving the item on top of your wish list!

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