With the holiday season fast approaching, many shoppers are wondering how they will navigate the chaotic shopping scene. November’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday are by far the biggest shopping days of the year, bringing in $7.9 billion and $6.6 billion, respectively. The popularity of these shopping events continues to rise as 2017’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales increased by 17 percent compared to the previous year.

With this increasing popularity, it is harder than ever to score the best possible savings. So before you head out to tackle your holiday shopping, prepare yourself with these tips.

Define your limits

During the cheerful season, it can be easy to get caught up in the moment and overspend on additional gifts and impulse buys. Before setting out to shop, create an itemized list of the specific items you are looking for. This helps you stick to a spending limit and ensure no one’s gift is forgotten in the madness.

Earlier than ever before

Black Friday is synonymous with lines that wrap around the store and bull rushes to get the hottest deals at midnight, but doors are now opening earlier to avoid this. In 2017, many stores opened early on Thanksgiving evening around 6:00 PM and closed at midnight, before re‐opening the next morning. To score the most popular door buster deals, you may need to hit the mall earlier than ever before.

If key items on your list are sold out by the time you arrive, look for Cyber Monday as a second chance to find gifts at a discounted price. Also, research for items that may receive a larger discount online than in stores.

Read the fine print

Though deals can be scored by shopping early for the holiday season, there is some risk to buying gifts this soon. Take a few minutes to research store return policies to avoid giving a gift that can’t be returned or exchanged after a short period of time. On Cyber Monday, seek out sites that offer free return shipping for online purchases. Bigger items such as a TV may carry significant postage costs back to the retailer.

Reward opportunities

Retailers make a big push during the holiday season to get shoppers signed up for their loyalty programs by offering attractive discounts and coupons exclusively for members. Most of these programs are completely free to join and can prove very rewarding for repeat customers.

The holiday season is also an excellent time to take advantage of credit card offers. If you have been considering opening a new credit card account, seek those with attractive retail cash back rewards that will bring savings alongside your holiday shopping. You can find helpful tools comparing different credit card offers at sites such as NerdWallet and Consumer Reports.