The season's most popular toys are like buying a new car. The value drops as soon as you drive off the lot. Or in this case, as soon as Dec. 26 rolls around. If your local shops are sold out of the "it" toy, resist the urge to pay triple the price online. And don't bother trying to order it from the manufacturer directly. Most intentionally undersupply the season's most advertised toys to drive demand.
If, however, you do manage to find this year's hottest toy on sale, but don't want to battle crowds, try this: Hit the store after 6 p.m. on the eve of the sale. According to the National Retail Foundation, lots of retailers program their registers the night before, locking in the next day's sale price. Who knows? You may get lucky.