Internet shopping has gone so mainstream it's become a holiday tradition for many families, mine included. You set down your nightcap or coffee beside your PC, then click over to DealTime or BizRate to check out the latest sales. Or maybe cart your laptop to your recliner and window-shop on your wireless home network while watching TV.
But even after half a dozen holiday seasons of Internet commerce, many people still find it hard to figure out where to shop online. While Amazon.com has become the Wal-Mart of the Web, and the nation's big-name retailers run many of the leading sites, a host of top Web shops still aren't household names.
Here is a guide to holiday shopping online, an overview of sites and tools you might want to check out soon -- real soon, since there are fewer days than usual between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
If you're like most folks, you haven't found gifts for your loved ones yet and the Web is getting better at helping. In addition to gift-finding sites such as RedEnvelope, the leading portals -- Yahoo, MSN and America Online -- offer most-popular lists linking to the season's hot gifts, which means two-inch radio-controlled cars, Chicken Dance Elmos, Rapunzel Barbies, Yu-Gi-Oh cards, thumb-size computer storage drives and digital photographic gear.