The most wonderful time of the year is nearly upon us. 'Tis the season to be jolly -- and to wait in long lines, get into fistfights in parking lots, and rush around crowded stores at 6 a.m. hoping to snap up that last Tickle Me Cabbage Patch doll your kids can't live without.

Some shoppers swear by the deals they get by camping out at the mall on the day after Thanksgiving. In a time-honored annual ritual, the stampeding hordes create just the right ambiance for a unique shopping experience. If you're one of those shoppers, I say more power to you. After all, you work hard for the cost savings you earn.

But you won't see me among the crowds on Black Friday. Thanks to the power of the Internet, millions of shoppers won't have to leave their homes to get their shopping done. And with the National Retail Federation's concept of Cyber Monday, you don't have to miss out on the hype that has become part and parcel of the holiday shopping experience.

Forget the skeptics
Of course, some naysayers argue that Cyber Monday is just a marketing gimmick. They point to statistics from past years showing that the Monday after Thanksgiving hasn't come close to being the season's top online shopping day.

Yet that won't lessen the buzz that now surrounds the event -- nor its symbolic importance as a sign of the health of the consumer economy. Last year, Cyber Monday brought slowdowns and crashes on some retailers' websites, including Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), and Macy's (NYSE:M).

In a year in which stores from Chico's FAS (NYSE:CHS) to Gap (NYSE:GPS) have been struggling, retailers are looking for any edge they can get. They want you to shop early, and they'll give you deals to get your fingers clicking.

How can you score the most in Cyber Monday savings? Read on and find out everything you need to know to save the most while shopping online:

And if you do decide to wake up at the crack of dawn on Friday, stay safe ... and best of luck to you out there in the crowds!

For some great shopping tips throughout the year, throw our personal-finance newsletter, Motley Fool Green Light, into your cart. Our free 30-day trial won't make you wait in line.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger again anticipates that he'll let his shopping go until the last minute, despite his best intentions. He doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned in this article. Amazon.com is a Stock Advisor recommendation, and Wal-Mart is an Inside Value pick. Gap is a recommendation of both services. The Fool's disclosure policy keeps you safe and warm.