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4 tips for last-minute shoppers (like me)

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According to the American Research Group, more than a third of consumers have already finished their holiday shopping. Not started — finished.

I am not one of them.

I try to shop here and there throughout the year, stocking my gift closet with bargains, but inevitably a day or two before the holiday I discover that I need a stocking stuffer for a teenager (no easy feat, if you’re trying to stick to a small budget) or that I’ve given away as a birthday present something I’d stashed away for my own kids. I don’t wait until the 11th hour in order to save more money — though, given that stores are dropping prices in order to entice shoppers in this dismal economy, it’s been a bit of a win for me this year. I wait until the 11th hour because, even though it’s on the same day every year, Christmas always sneaks up on me before I’m ready.

If you’re a last-minute shopper, too — for whatever reason — here are four ideas that can help. Think of them as fake-cleaning tips, but for shopping.

  1. Shop on Free Shipping Day (Dec. 16). If shipping charges are what kills you about shopping online, your day has come. Friday, Dec. 16 is Free Shipping Day, and 2,339 different merchants have agreed to waive shipping fees and still get your order to you (or to anywhere in the contiguous United States) by Christmas Eve. These are big-name brands, too — JCPenny, Express, Kohls, Sephora, Barnes & Nobel, HP, Sharper Image, One Step Ahead, Wine Enthusiast and moreā€¦ check them all out and start shopping at FreeShippingDay.com.
  2. Skip the Hottest Toys. “The odds of finding a Nerf Vortex or a Sesame Street Let’s Rock Elmo rank up there with winning the lottery,” says Andrea Woroch, a consumer and money-saving expert with Kinoli Inc. “Even if you could locate the object of your child’s most expensive affection, stores will likely have jacked up prices as they know shoppers are desperate.” Look for alternative, and when the coveted toys are restocked, buy them for another occasion.
  3. Check your email. “Remember all those merchant e-newsletters you receive throughout the year? Well this is the time to start reading them,” says Woroch. “Online retailers usually include coupon codes that allow you to score great last-minute deals.”
  4. Don’t wrap gifts. Or, at least, don’t wrap them in the traditional way. Make cloth sacks in which to hide the goodies if you’re crafty, stock up on inexpensive pillowcases if you’re not, or “wrap” the presents in paper gift bags (if you stuff enough tissue paper in, the kids won’t miss the ripping part). Instead of bows, grab a tiny toy from their stockings or buy a bunch of lollipops and use them to decorate the gifts under the tree. No ribbon? No worries — kids don’t care about that stuff anyway.


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One comment so far...

  • Right on the money Lylah! Hope many last minute shoppers read this advise.

    Barb  |  December 16th, 2011 at 12:49 pm