Last Minute Christmas Shopping Done Right

Last Minute Christmas Shopping Done Right

Well, it’s here; Christmas week.  Honestly, with Christmas smack dab in the middle, I don’t think most people are going to be doing much other than enjoying the holiday during the course of the week.  By this time tomorrow, Christmas Eve will be well on its way, it’ll be Thursday before the holiday itself is over and Friday before most of us have recovered.  May as well finish up your work today (if you are actually at work), go home, and not bother coming back until next week.  (Of course, come next week, you’ll have New Year’s Day nearly upon you, so there’s that as well.)

But even without work, there’s plenty that could keep you busy.  One of the biggest and most worrisome is getting those last-minute gifts.  I’ve covered this issue before (sometimes in a humorous fashion), but if you still have shopping to do, you have incredibly little time in which to do it.  I’m hoping that you aren’t in that situation (I’ve been there myself in the not-too-distant past, and I understand the difficulty), but if you are, I’d like to share some

Tips to Do Your Last-Minute Christmas Shopping Efficiently

1. Don’t Shop Online: I know this is contrary to my earlier advice, but things change when you are this pressed for time.  At this point, the only hope you have to get anything you order online delivered to you (or your intended recipient directly, for that matter) in time is by choosing overnight delivery.  Besides the fact that doing so requires your would-be store to even have overnight delivery, it also costs you a pretty penny, leaves you worrying that it won’t arrive, and provides precise little time for a proper present preparation.  (How’s that for a tongue-twister?)  This means that your best bet is to go with shopping in person, which is what the rest of this article covers, starting with:

2. Avoid the Malls (Unless Completely Impossible): Look, every shopping location that has toys is going to be incredibly busy during these last few days; with a mall that has numerous such locations, you should expect things to be packed to the brim.  It’ll be a mad house, one that you should avoid unless the only possible way to get the only gift that will be acceptable for your particular needs.  Don’t go anywhere near there otherwise until after Christmas (and wait a few days more for the gift return rush to calm down).  If you are forced, at gunpoint or otherwise, to go to the mall, make sure to follow the next several steps to make things as painless as possible.

Picture this, filled to the brim, and you can see why I want to avoid malls.
Picture this, filled to the brim, and you can see why I want to avoid malls.

3. Go At Off Times: You can cut your waiting time when shopping by going at time when other people don’t; now more than any time during the year, it’s vital to go when things are as empty as they can be.  Going during work hours would normally be good, but since the majority of people who aren’t in the stores are probably taking off, that won’t do you much good when it comes to avoiding people.  Right when thing open works pretty good if the store opens early enough, although that does require you to be awake and active as well.

Personally, I’d recommend going to stores late in most cases. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword; if you go to, say, Wal-Mart after nine or ten p.m., you’ll encounter a lot less people with usually a similar amount of check-out areas (or so few people that you’ll be checked out quickly anyway).  The problem is that you’ll find a lot of things are out of stock; if you were hoping to get a particularly popular item, you’d likely be out of luck.  My wife and I went grocery shopping last night and they were out of a half-dozen items we needed; while we didn’t check the toy area, I’m sure that the most popular toys were probably waiting for the following day to be restocked.

4. Park Far From the Mall/Store: If you were ever wondering why the stores need all those parking spots, this should answer that question; just about every space will be filled.  If you wait to get a space near the mall itself, you could be waiting for hours.  Better to park far from the store (and close to the exits); it’ll take much more walking, but you’ll still save time.  Plus, with all the delicious holiday food you’re going to eat (particularly if you have someone like my wife Sondra in your life), it’s good to burn a few calories while you can.

5. Be Prepared to Wait: Again, things will be nuts, even if you get there at the most off-times, you should be ready to stand in line. Hopefully, things won’t be too long, unless you picked a simply insanely busy store, but it won’t be anywhere as quick as normal.  If your chosen store provides self-checkout lines, I highly suggest going that route; they are pretty quick (at least when working properly…), tend to have short(ish) lines, and are frequently express lines, so you don’t have to wait for people to check out dozens of items.  Since you’re only getting one or two last presents you should be able to go through quickly.  (You ARE only getting a last present or two, right?)

These tips should help you get any last-minute presents that you need; while I still hope you don’t need this advice, it should provide you the assistance you need.  Do you have any other hints for last minute shopping and gift-giving?  Any experiences going to malls during the last few days before Christmas you’d like to share?  Here’s hoping you have a great Christmas (shopping horrors aside)!

Image Source: Wikimedia

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