The holidays are a handful of days away, and you still have shopping to do. Our advice? Take a deep breath and don’t stress. You can get it all done as long as you keep a few things in mind.
Create a List
We know you like to shop online, but some gifts need to be seen in person. Stores can be crowded and hectic, so it’s important to stay focused and calm. The best way to stay on track is with a list—an actual list—with names, gift ideas, and the estimated budget per recipient. Using an app like Evernote or the memo function on your phone will ensure your list is with you at all times.
Also, remember to include your own shopping needs on your list. Setting a limit for what you can buy for yourself will hopefully prevent you from overindulging during the holidays.
Beware of the Maddening Crowd
Rather than hitting the stores during popular shopping times, take advantage of extended holiday hours when stores will be less crowded. If you have a lot of shopping left to do and can spare a personal day, take one. Unless you live in a tourist city, stores won’t be as crowded during the workday—letting you can shop in peace.
Don’t Forget about Shipping Times and Fees
Many of us turn to online shopping for its convenience, but as you place your orders, be mindful of shipping times and fees. Most websites have both prominently displayed. But in the past, UPS and Walmart have hit snags with delivering Cyber Week orders on time, so it’s better to order sooner rather than later so you’re not taking any chances.
Make Smart Choices
Whether you are shopping online or in stores, there are bound to be discounts. If those discounts apply to items on your list, go for it. However, a discount does not mean you should buy things you don’t need right now. Remember, you are still spending money, even if the item is 30% off.
Out of Ideas or Out of Time?
If you are really down to the wire and still have gifts to buy, you have options.
Rather than taking a risk with a gift you’re not sure about, give a gift card. Digital gift cards can be purchased online in minutes, and a large variety of physical gift cards can be easily found at the checkout of your local grocery store or drugstore. Gift cards for retailers that have a vast selection of items are the safest bet. According to a recent survey by gift card site Gift Card Granny, consumers often buy gift cards for Amazon, Walmart, and Target.
Memberships or passes to a favorite local destination, like a museum, play space, or zoo, is a unique and useful gift. They give the recipient a good reason to go to their favorite local place as often as they want during the year.
If you like to bake, whip up a batch of your famous cookies or banana bread, and wrap up the goods in wax paper with a ribbon. In just a couple hours, you could put your shopping list to bed.
Pick up something nice at the liquor store. Most liquor stores carry festive holiday beverages with decent gift bags that you can purchase in a pinch.
For something more personal, CVS Photo offers photo prints, cards, and books that can be done in as little as an hour. Walmart Photo offers a similar service where you can choose from card designs and various prints—including collage prints and mounted prints.
If you still have some last-minute shopping to do, use the tips above. Keep the growing crowds and online shipping times and fees at the forefront of your mind, and remember to shop smart where you can. And if you’d like to get a little cash back this season, consider getting a rewards card that suits your needs.