photo: Atomic Taco via Flickr

Online shopping can be a mom’s best friend when it comes to stuffing stockings and fulfilling Santa’s duties over the holidays. But stress-free shopping could come at a higher price this year, however, as UPS has just announced it will be raising it rates over the holidays this year.

In an effort to meet higher demands, UPS will be hiring extra employees during the holiday shopping season this year. In order to off-set the costs of hiring more people, the company announced that for the first time it will be raising it’s individual package prices by adding a peak surcharge to residential deliveries during the months of November and December. The additional fee isn’t tremendous, ranging from 27 cents to 97 cents, depending on the shipment date and speed, but it can still add up if you’re buying a lot online.

However, you’re worry-free days of holiday shopping online don’t have to come to end. There are lots of simple steps you can take to save money on shipping to help balance out the raise in prices. Here are a few tips to try:

Shop Early
Try to get a good chunk of your holiday shopping completed before the season actually sets in.

Look for Free Shipping Deals
Many companies offer free shipping deals during certain dates or based on how much you spend. Freeshipping.com lists thousands of online retailers that offer free shipping.

Hit up Social Media
Liking companies on Facebook and Twitter can sometimes earn you special promotions, like discounts and free shipping.

Celebrate Free Shipping Day
For one day in the month of December many merchants participate in Free Shipping Day. Check out freeshippingday.com for more info on the exact date and which retailers participate.

Do you prefer to do your holiday shopping online or in-store? Share your thoughts in the comments below.