Black Friday! Cyber Monday! You've barely set down your fork from eating your Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, and it's already time to get on with the holiday shopping.

While it's easy to get all wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of gift giving, it's also to remember that you eventually have to pay for all your purchases. Figuring out how much you should spend and what form of payment you should use--cash, debit or credit--should be at the top of your holiday to do list.

Credit cards are still a popular method for purchasing holiday gifts. A Consumer Reports survey released at the end of October found that 53 percent of Americans paid for at least part, if not all, of their holiday spending with plastic, and they charged an average of $433 to buy gifts.

However, paying for your entire holiday shopping with credit might not be a good idea, especially if you can't pay it off right away. Consumer Reports found that six percent of Americans were still paying off their holiday credit card purchases from 2010.

If you don't want to be one of the 14 million people saddled with last year's holiday spending, you should plan wisely. "You should always build a well-defined and established shopping list that fits within your pre-agreed upon holiday shopping budget," says Ethan Ewing, president of in an e-mail interview. "If you are concerned about over-spending, you cannot shop without this list and you must remained disciplined throughout. Everyone's goal should be to make it through the holiday shopping season without incurring new debt that cannot be paid off in the next credit card cycle. Family and friends understand economic pressures. If you are concerned, communicate it ahead of the holidays so that expectations are set and you do not feel pressure to bust your budget."

However, Ewing advises that you shouldn't necessarily put away your plastic when it comes to making sure you've covered everyone on your list. "Credit cards have their place in your holiday shopping strategy," says Ewing, adding that credit cards offer convenience and in some cases provide warranty protection and discounts. Ewing says another reason to use credit cards is to accumulate rewards points, though he cautions that some rewards programs are better than others.

Although making a list is helpful, some people have a difficult time sticking to their list and budget, especially if they're caught up in the spirit of giving. In these cases Ewing says credit cards aren't ideal. "Never use credit cards for impulse buys or when departing from your shopping list – use cash or debit cards in those situations so you feel the sting and are unable to incur debt," says Ewing.

Sometimes that's easier said than done, especially when the excitement of holiday shopping takes over and the temptation of impulse buying. "This is different for every person," says Ewing. "It's about knowing yourself and what will stop you from spending."

"For some people, it's leaving the plastic at home -- go to the store to window shop or build your list, but wait until you return home and build your budget before committing to buy," says Ewing. "For some, it's about giving yourself a reward for making it through the season [on] your budget--for others, it's a punishment."

Ewing adds that another option for those who just can't say no include bringing "a card with a low limit or available credit for shopping trips that fit within that budget so you can't spend above it."

However you plan for holiday spending, if you're using a credit card to fund your shopping, you also need to have a plan to pay it off. Ideally, you should create your strategy for bill paying before you start spending so that you don't become a statistic like the 14 million who are still paying off last year's holiday spending.

"You should build your budget and shopping list so that you can pay off your credit card within the first billing cycle after the holiday. You do not want to incur interest or additional debt because of holiday shopping," says Ewing.