Your heart rate increases. Your blood pressure spikes. You hit a sudden wall of fatigue. Are you taking a final exam, rushing to catch a flight, or leading the Tour de France? No—you're just shopping for holiday gifts. It may sound incredible, but a study conducted last year by the e-commerce giant eBay found that the stress of holiday shopping can increase your heart rate the same way that vigorous physical activity does. As more Americans opt out of long lines and traffic jams in favor of an online shopping experience, they may be putting a portion of that stress behind them—but they are also entering a complex marketplace that comes with challenges and headaches of its own.

This month, we're focused on helping you be smart and stay serene as you tackle the holiday shopping season. We've got the latest tips on how to avoid paying more than you have to for online purchases, guidance to help you steer clear of scams and cybercrimes, and the best advice for protecting your online privacy. Finding gifts to give your loved ones shouldn't have to be stressful—and when you're saving money, safeguarding your personal information, and making the smartest choices for you and your family with help from CR's team of experts, it won't be.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the December 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.