Did you just look at the calendar and realize time has totally gotten away from you this season? Before you start to feel Scrooge-y about your current lack-of-gift-shopping situation, check out these 5 last-minute holiday shopping tips that can make your mad dash to the nearest store a bit easier on your mind and your wallet.

1) Relax… and write things down. Take a cue from Santa. Although the temptation (and sometimes, expectation) at this time of year is to go crazy shopping for the latest technology gadgets, fashion trends and popular toys, the holidays really are about the quality time you spend with family and friends. So, before you take off on your shopping extravaganza, make a list of the people you really want (or need) to buy a gift for. Think about conversations you’ve had with them during the past year. Try to remember any gift ideas they may have mentioned, or if you happened to notice they didn’t have something they could really use. If any of those items match your budget, write them next to the person’s name, along with the stores you think may have them.

2) Know where you’re going. Research deals online before you head out to the stores. You can save time and money by not driving all over town from store to store. When you consolidate your gift-giving to one big box store that carries every type of gift imaginable, you may actually be able to get all of your shopping done in one place in a short amount of time. That translates into more time celebrating the season with family and friends, rather than standing in line waiting for another cash register to open up.

3) Shop when it’s convenient for you, not everyone else. Once you know where you’re shopping, who you’re shopping for and what you want to give them, plan a time of day that is less hectic for you and the store(s) you’re going to. On weekdays, wait for the early morning commuters to clear the roads and settle into their workplaces before you venture out. Shop while they’re at work so you won’t have so much competition for parking spaces, shopping carts and cashiers. On weekends, shop at odd hours, when others aren’t awake yet or when they’re out to dinner or movies for the night. Again, less competition in the stores means more opportunities for you to score your items quickly so you can get back to your own holiday celebrations.

4) Get creative. If you’re short on funds, focus on giving things that can’t be bought in a store. Do you have a talent for sewing and crafts? Make simple, fun, beautiful, unique gifts that will not only remind the person you give them to of you, but will also make them stop and think, “Wow, she cared about me enough to make me something special.” Not every gift has to be of heirloom, treasure-worthy status, of course. If you’re a great baker, whip up your favorite muffins and provide the recipe in a pretty basket with all the necessary supplies. Quick, easy, done.

5) Mind your budget and your mood. When you’re short on time, grabbing something off a rack and buying it without a thought — no matter the price — may seem like the simplest and smartest thing to do. But think again. It can also be the absolute worst thing you do for your finances. Don’t get lost in the constant ticking of a clock that is counting down the hours until Santa arrives. Create a shopping plan and stick to it. And, most of all, shop with a smile on your face. Being in a happy mood when you’re out and about will help you keep your gifts, spending and the holiday season in proper perspective.

What are your last-minute holiday shopping tips? Have you made or purchased any gifts that your recipients absolutely loved? Let us know by commenting below, or by clicking “Tell Your Story”.

Find more holiday shopping tips and learn about military spouse owned businesses on SpouseLink.





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