Nearly everyone has a last minute holiday shopping horror story to tell. Be it a late-season grab for a child’s must-have gift or fighting fellow procrastinators for a parking spot come the waning days of the season, veteran shoppers have experienced it all.
While those with more experience might know the tricks of the late season shopping trade, novice procrastinators might need a few of the following tips to make it through the season without a horror story of their own.
• Consider online retailers. Shopping online might not be for everyone, but those without much time might want to consider online retailers, many of which guarantee delivery of the item by Christmas Day for orders placed as late as December 20. In addition, some retailers even guarantee delivery if the order is placed by December 22, but such guarantees often require consumers to choose
overnight delivery, which can be costly.
• When shopping online, if no gifts stand out, consider buying an electronic gift certificate instead. Such certificates can often be delivered directly to a loved one’s e-mail inbox, and it only takes a matter of seconds for the delivery to be made. Though some find this impersonal, nowadays many people would prefer a gift card instead of another sweater.
• Go the food-and-beverage route. One of the worst things about last minute holiday shopping is dealing with fellow procrastinators at the local mall. Last minute shoppers tend to be as short on patience as they are on time. To avoid the malls, last minute shoppers can give the gift of food or drink for those friends or family members you will be seeing during the holiday season. A nice bottle of wine or a collection of gourmet cheeses make thoughtful gifts, and last minute shoppers don’t need to visit the mall to get them.
• Consider a monthly gift. As a nice bottle of wine or a package of gourmet cheeses proves, not all great gifts need to be picked up at the mall. A monthly gift like a magazine subscription or a membership to a monthly club (i.e., “Pastry of the Month”) are gifts that keep on giving all year. Late-season shoppers will find these options especially appealing as they can almost always be ordered in just a few minutes, whether it’s over the phone or via the Internet.
• Don’t abandon the mall entirely. Though procrastinators are in no danger of becoming extinct, most people do get their holiday shopping done well in advance of Christmas Day. As a result, truly last minute shoppers might find the mall isn’t so crowded on Christmas Eve. While the pickings might be slim for shoppers who wait until December 24, the lines may not be as long and the parking lot probably won’t be as packed. But keep in mind it will be impossible for a gift purchased on Christmas Eve to find its way under a tree unless you personally bring it to a loved one. If you can’t give the gift in person on Christmas, don’t wait until Christmas Eve to buy it.
• Donate in a loved one’s name. If a specific charity is near and dear to a loved one’s heart, make a donation in their name. Charities are among the many organizations that are
struggling to survive in the current economy, and your donation might go a long way to helping a cause your loved one truly supports.