Every year my husband and I take a day in November to get all our Christmas shopping for the kids done.

The kids spend the day with their grandparents, and we make a date day out of it -- we hit multiple stores, grab a nice lunch and enjoy the beginning of the Christmas season together.

One thing I've noticed over the past few years though, as our front porch fills up with holiday deliveries and the items on our kids' Christmas lists don't match up with toys that actually exist in physical stores, is that it is less and less necessary to make that all-day excursion. Of course we still take that shopping trip every year; after all, we don't want to give up the date day! But my bet is that lots of other parents are feeling that the store-to-store trek for holiday gifts is becoming less and less necessary.

So, just in time for the holiday season, here are five ways new technology has transformed the Christmas shopping experience.

Easy comparison shopping

A few years ago, we were at Toys 'R Us checking out a LEGO set my daughter wanted. As I was holding it in my hands making sure it was the right one, my husband totally blew my mind by taking a photo of the box, popping onto Amazon, and discovering, right there in the aisle of the store that the toy was $20 cheaper online. Then, he proceeded to order it!

Of course, the online version isn't always cheaper, and it's nice to be in the physical store to see exactly what it is the kids want. When the toy isn't cheaper online, we just toss it in the cart and mosey on over, old-school style, to the checkout!

Online wish lists

My kids still love writing their Christmas Eve message to Santa, inviting him to enjoy their specially chosen cookies, asking him how his year has gone, and pointing out that the carrot or apple is for Rudolph. But for many families, those handwritten toy wish lists are a thing of the past, as it's much easier to send grandmas, aunts and uncles to the online wish list when they start asking what the kids want for Christmas. An extra bonus is that the online wish list shows exactly what size, model, color the child wants, and you can even order it right there!

An end to the fruitless searching for obscure gifts

You know those extremely obscure gifts the kids sometimes ask for? You know, the toys that have a very vague description, but it has to be that specific thing they know they've seen somewhere, but they just can't remember where? Google to the rescue! I've put some very interesting search words into online search engines, certain that the coveted toy was actually something the child in question saw in a dream, and sure enough, the toy pops up on my computer, and Christmas morning wishes come true!

You can embrace your inner hermit

As I mentioned, I still love going on our annual shopping day with my husband, but if that's not your thing, there's really no need for you to leave your house at all to get your Christmas shopping done. Log on to find the wish list for those on your own list, click around to find the best price, order to have them sent to your front door (even wrapped if you so desire), and you're done!

The kids are onto you

This might not be such a positive development, but the fact of the matter is that our kids are much more technologically savvy than most of us are. So, there's no more easy excuse for not getting that gift you don't necessarily approve of. You can't just say that it was sold out of the store, or that you couldn't find it in the store, or that the store was closed. Our precious offspring are well-aware of the fact that the high-tech world we live in makes it all too easy to find whatever it is their little hearts desire!

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