Somehow, despite your best efforts, the holiday season beat you again: it’s the eleventh hour, and and you’ve got people you haven’t yet bought gifts. It doesn’t matter how it happened. The panicking and self-scolding can wait until later. Right now, what you need is a plan that will get those gifts taken care of so you can get back to all the other stuff on your list.
How to tackle last minute shopping
The first step: sit down and calm down. Make a list of just those people you have yet to buy gifts. Put them in one column. In another column, beside each name, write down what you’re going to get them, if you have any idea, or what they like – some kind of helpful info.
Did you leave some names blank, because you have no idea what to get them? That’s okay. Take the blank names and check off every one of them who is a person over ten years of age. Those people are getting gift cards. Okay? Everybody loves gift cards. Gift cards are easy to get. Got someone who only wants, say, fishing gear for the holidays, and no gift cards at any local sporting goods stores that carry it? Give that person some cash, with a thoughtful card explaining what he or she is to spend the money on, and that you’d have picked out something yourself but were afraid you’d pick wrong.
Now you’ve clicked the most difficult people off your to do list, and all that’s left is a simple list of things to buy, and the people you’re buying them for. All you need to do is go buy it and put everything together into nice gifts.
Stores sold out?
Of course, “just go buy it” is sometimes easier said than done. Let’s say you can’t find one of the gifts on your list at the store where you thought you’d find it. Traffic is ridiculous, too, and you’re short on time.
- Do not jump in your car and drive elsewhere – start calling around. This is so easy if you have a smart phone, but even if you don’t – even if all you have is a landline at home, and have to go home to make the calls – you’ll still save time compared to driving all over the place to other stores that may not have it either.
- Start thinking of substitute gifts. You may have to come up with something other than your first choice for that person.
- There’s always the gift card/cash option. Don’t feel bad or shy away from it!
Making gift cards/cash special
If you feel bad about giving people gift cards, you can always pick out a really nice card or wrap them in a thoughtful and gorgeous way. Include a note that says you looked for something for them, but weren’t sure what they wanted and thought the gift card would let them pick something they like. You could even throw in a little stocking stuffer type gift to dress it up.
If you really feel bad about giving gift cards, you can always get them a gift basket or bouquet with the gift card included prominently in it. There are tons of ways to “dress up” a mere gift card – just remember, people really do like to receive them.
Other stuff to consider
Here are some more off-beat last-minute suggestions that might not have occurred to you:
- Charity donation. Make a donation to a charity in the name of your gift receiver.
- Mail-order meat/fruit of the month. A monthly membership to a food club can be a very thoughtful gift – it’s especially good right now, when some people are struggling to make ends meet. A little less food to buy could be an extremely memorable and appreciated gift!
- Something engraved. A nice but generic gift can be made to seem more personal if you get it engraved (or somehow get the person’s name on it). Even a mug from a mall kiosk seems thoughtful when it’s personalized.
- A massage. Not everyone loves massages, but if you know someone who does, buy them one at a nearby spy. Remember to include an extra $15 for the tip so they don’t have to tack that on.
- Online shopping. Most online stores offer super-fast shipping to get your last minute gifts wrapped and delivered on time. Sometimes this is even free. It can be worth it, just so you can do your last minute shopping all at the computer.
Got anymore suggestions for last minute shoppers who are feeling the crunch? Put them in the comments!