Posted by Tim Stobbs on December 16, 2008
Ok for those dedicated readers who recall I did try to get you all planning ahead ahead this year to reduce your stress level at Christmas. Now with nine days left, for some people it has happened again. You’ve just started shopping and you have no idea what your are serving at that party you are hosting this weekend. It’s ok, don’t blame yourself it happens to all of us at some point.
So here’s my guide for the late and desperate shoppers:
- You might still be able to skip the mall. Some online stores will tell you the last day you have to ensure you get something on Christmas Eve, but you are getting late. I know for example, Chapters, it’s their last day to place an order and have it arrive by Christmas Eve (for national shipments). If they don’t say on the website when it will arrive don’t bother with the order, you are likely going to get lost in the back log of orders.
- Shop at odd hours. For those weird people who can’t sleep late at night check out a couple of the stores like Walmart and Superstore that are open now 24 hours a day. Less line ups at midnight I’ve heard since I’ve never done it personally (but I had a friend who has worked at 3am in Walmart and apparently people really do shop then).
- Use Cash. This is something that most people overlook during the holidays. The data lines to the credit cards often can be overloaded at this time of the year, but cash always works. Not to mention it’s hard to go over budget since when you are out of cash you are done shopping.
- Default to the basic gifts. When you don’t have a clue what to buys someone I typically fall back to one of three things: booze, food or gift cards (or cash). The items are easy to shop for and really most people at least eat or drink something so even a gift basket with tea, coffee and hot chocolate mix works fine.
- Pre-cook food. When possible, if you are hosting a party, cook as much in advance as you can. There is nothing worse than missing your own party because you are stuck in the kitchen. If you are running out of time and can’t pre-cook much yourself you might, gasp, actually buy some pre-fab food. It’s not the end of the world (I’ve even done it once in a while). You might also try a pot-luck party when every brings a dish and a bottle of wine that way you can reduce your work load and reduce your costs all at once.
- Delegate. It’s ok to give your family members marching orders. Everyone can help to make sure the holidays are really happy for you all. Just don’t try to do it all yourself! Even if they just shovel the driveway while you wrap gifts, every little bit helps.
So that’s my guide to the late and desperate holidays. How are you doing with your shopping? If you are a last minute kind of person, what do you do to make sure it gets all done?