Last Minute Holiday Shopping Tips

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If you are anything like me, you are waiting till the last minute to buy holiday gifts. It is always in my nature. I want to make sure we have budgeted accordingly, and also, I have a hard time keeping secrets when it comes to holiday gifts. I just get really excited. So this year, I have put together some last minute holiday shopping tips to navigate the season.

Holiday shopping for me is always a bit of a balance, I love to spend hours picking things out, but hiding them in my house can be a process. And worst of all, sometimes you don’t get a list from someone special until the last minute.

Like for instance, this year we decided our daughter was ready for an American Girl doll. She loves taking care of hair, dressing dolls up, and she hasn’t lost a stuffed animal in years. She is still attached to her Winnie the Pooh doll her aunt gave her when she was a baby. I don’t know who is more excited about the doll – her or me. I had two when I was a child and I was obsessed with them – although Kristen received an unfortunate haircut after a hair washing when I was 12.

I am also not sure where we are going to hide a workbench from my son for more than a few weeks – our garage only holds so many things, and our shed is full of outdoor toys.

Frankly, when my husband decides what he wants (he never wants ANYTHING), it is usually December 22nd.

So the problem becomes finding good deals so close to Christmas (there are always deals, but sometimes not as amazing of deals as you get on Black Friday (which I avoid like the plague). And because I am a keyboard warrior, I also want to order everything online, with free shipping, and as painless on possible to get the items to the door.

So I have put together a list of ways to maximize your last minute holiday shopping expedition:

PRICE SHOP: If you are anything like me, I automatically go to Amazon for everything. Amazon is all that is good with the digital economy – everything you want (and with PRIME – FREE SHIPPING), but sometimes the price isn’t always best. I have found that sometimes going direct to the source of the product, (i.e. the American Girl Website) has better pricing – and sometimes you can get free shipping directly from the product websites. Make sure before you click “buy” that you have thoroughly checked prices.

GIFTS FOR HARD TO PURCHASE FOR PEOPLE: My favorite types of gifts are one that keep on giving. For example, my husband has a looooooong commute every day. It is the price we pay to live in the suburbs of a big city. In order to keep himself occupied during his drive, we actually decided that books on tape were a great idea. He could learn Spanish or other fun topics on his daily commute. I actually rented from the library new audiobooks every few weeks when I had a bad commute. But it is now the digital age, and going to the library takes time out of his day, so we looked into the next best thing – Audible. He streams it through his phone and it plays through his speakers. He is happy, and with his membership, he gets a new book every month. Right now, they are even offering 2 free audio books with your free trial. Looking for something that will be a constant source of entertainment or delight is a great way to gift this holiday season. And if they are monthly fee type items, like Audible, you end up paying only $15 a month instead of a huge outlay of cash up front.

SET A BUDGET PER PERSON: I used to buy without thinking – “ooh that looks great” for EVERYTHING – and ended up with tons of nonsensical gifts for people and an empty bank account. Now, we create a list of people that we are buying for, set dollar amounts for each person, and stick to those dollar amounts. For anyone not on the list of “official” gifts, we make gifts for (the kids are going to make Hot Chocolate Reindeer for our homemade gift pool this weekend) and we always have something on hand for unexpected gift exchanges. Be careful that you include EVERYONE in your budget – I always hate getting hit for teacher/coach/aide gifts last minute from designated gift parents and go over budget. Be realistic for who you HAVE to buy for so you know how much the holiday will cost you.

MAKE SURE YOU ARE GETTING A RETURN ON YOUR EXPENDITURES: If you buy from product websites, make sure you sign up for rewards programs. These help you buy more gifts later on, or additional needs you forgot about when you purchased. I also LOVE sites like EBATES, which give you cash back when you originate purchases from their site. I have already earned $15 in the last week, and even have a button on my browser that reminds me when I am at an EBATES site. I also use our rewards credit card for purchases, so we get points that turn into cash each month (we pay off our credit card in full each week, I only suggest earning rewards if you don’t pay finance charges – otherwise they negate out). Stacking rewards and rebates definitely adds up when you are spending for the holidays.

DON’T STRESS ABOUT GETTING THE PERFECT GIFT: The holidays can be stressful. But they aren’t your defining moment as a parent/wife/friend. Getting the perfect gift isn’t going to make or break a relationship (unless you are a husband buying your wife something she DOESN’T want – then I give no sympathy). You don’t need to make every gift elaborate, expensive, or over the top. Pick something that has some thought put in it, regardless what it costs, and let the person know that you are thinking about them. That is the true meaning of the season. And definitely don’t go into bankruptcy to try to impress people – do you remember every gift you received each holiday? I don’t think so. Holidays are just a short moment in time, so putting a ton of stress on yourself about “perfect gifts” is just exhausting and doesn’t change anyone’s world.

I hope these last minute holiday shopping tips help you navigate the holiday season without breaking the bank or losing your sanity!

Happy Holidays!


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