Last-Minute Christmas Shopping Survival Guide

Dec 11, 2013Reading Time: 4 min

If you’ve ever seen Jingle All The Way starring everyone’s favorite Austrian action hero, Arnold Schwarzenegger, you know the stress involved with last-minute shopping. It’s panic-inducing, frenzied; you come to terms with your unforgivable propensity to procrastinate as unforgiving beads of sweat trickle down your face.

There are 14 days left. For online shoppers, it’s indeed the last minute.

Don’t worry—you’re not alone. According to the National Retail Federation, this time last year only 11.3 percent of people had completed their holiday shopping. Like you, many others are putting the finishing touches on their lists, squabbling endlessly with their choices, trying to decide when to strike.

Here are few tips to get you started on the right track for last minute Christmas shopping:

1. Focus on your list. First and foremost, you must decide what to buy people. It’s your plan of attack. A well-thought-out holiday shopping list will streamline your approach and help you avoid overspending. Write all down, check it twice, and move onto step two.

2. Shop on Free Shipping Day. It takes place on Wednesday, Dec. 18. There are 698 participants: merchants like Harry & David, REI and RadioShack. Come back to our coupon site to see a vast array of free shipping offers. Last year had more than 1,000 popular stores offering free shipping on Free Shipping Day. No retailer likes to be left out of fabricated consumerist holidays, so it’s a safe bet your favorite store will join the fun.

3. Ask stores to hold merchandise for you. Poor Arnie wished he could’ve had a store hold Turbo Man for him. For you, it’ll be no different. The most coveted products will run out as Christmas nears, but many stores offer order online/pick up in-store policies. Some of these include Walmart, Best Buy, Sears, Kmart and Apple Store.

4. Go simple, go plastic. Shrug off the haters who say gift cards are impersonal. Gift cards make excellent stocking stuffers. And you can dress them up in ways to give the illusion of highly thought-out gifts—put them in a personalized mug, a beautiful bag, or inside of your recipient’s favorite novel. Plastic hate is so irrational. It’s not impersonal if it’s your recipient’s favorite store. Some stores that offer great gift cards include Amazon, Apple iTunes, Stubhub and Not to mention Starbucks gift cards are the No. 1 gifts requested by teachers.

5. Visit one-stop shops. The beauty of online shopping is the sheer amount of one-stop shops. I myself made a nice little Saturday out of finding gifts for three family members through Amazon. Other obvious ones like Target and Walmart offer the gamut of goodies, ensuring a speedy and thrifty shopping session.

6. Shop all.night.long … all night. Lionel Richie said it best. He might’ve been referring to Kohl’s six-night extravaganza lasting 6 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 20 through 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Yes, Kohl’s is keeping its doors open for more than 100 hours straight.

If Christmas is so close you can smell it and you haven’t finished getting gifts, this is a godsend. Said Michelle Gass, Kohl’s chief customer officer: “Not only does Kohl's have the hottest gifts at incredible prices, now shoppers will have the added benefit of being able to check off their lists, day or night, whenever it is most convenient for them.”

7. Wrap it up. Your items arrive in the mail, bare and unwrapped. You wished they’d come pre-wrapped, because you’re just lazy like that. No harm, no foul. I feel the same way. Luckily, some stores these days offer free gift wrapping (in-store and online), such as Barnes & Noble. Others include Lands’ End, Nordstrom, Tiffany & Co., and Bed Bath & Beyond.