There are only a precious handful of days left before Christmas arrives, and if you haven’t yet finished–or even started–shopping for Christmas gifts, you may feel a sense of panic starting to set in. Before you kick yourself for waiting until the last minute once again, don’t worry–all hope is not lost. Below are five tips to help you knock out your last-minute Christmas shopping without even breaking a sweat.
1. Keep Calm and Make a List
The first thing you need to do is take a deep breath and remember one thing: You’ve got this. No need to whirl through the shopping mall in a random gift-buying frenzy; you need to establish a plan of attack before you hit the stores, and that means making a list and checking it twice. Since overspending is one of the fatal flaws of last-minute Christmas shopping, be sure to write down how much you plan to spend on each person on your list, and do your best to stay within those limits.
2. Hit the Stores That Offer Extended Holiday Hours
Retail stores thoroughly understand that millions of Americans will put off their Christmas shopping until the very last minute. They feel your pain. And that’s why many of them offer extended holiday hours, so that you can still get the gifts you need even in the midst of a massive time crunch.
For example, Macy’s is famous for opening earlier and closing later during the holiday season. Be sure to check online to see what types of holiday hours your favorite retailers are offering, and then schedule your shopping trips accordingly.
3. Buy Gift Cards
If you’re not quite sure what to get for someone on your list, you’ll rarely go wrong by giving them a gift card to one of their favorite stores. Almost every retailer on the planet now offers gift cards, so as long as you can get in the general ballpark of the recipient’s preferences, you’ll do well.
For example, if you have a niece who loves the latest fashions, head to Forever 21, American Eagle Outfitters, Hollister, or any other popular clothing store and purchase a gift card that will enable her to get anything she likes. This will also take care of any worries about buying something that’s the wrong size (or style).
4. Give the Gift of Food
When it comes for those hard-to-buy for people like teachers, hair stylists, the mail man, the school bus driver, Sunday school teachers, etc., it’s never a bad idea to give them an indulgent treat in the form of holiday cookies, fudge, peanut brittle, or something savory like homemade Chex mix or a gift basket with gourmet meats and cheeses. Even if you’re not very familiar with the recipient’s preferences, giving the gift of food is usually a smash hit.