We asked personal shoppers and professional organizers for their best strategies for tackling last-minute shopping. Here’s some quick shopping tips for you:
Make a Plan:
Make a comprehensive list of people you want to acknowledge but may easily forget in the shopping swirl. Make note of all holiday parties you'll be attending, so you can pick up hostess gifts. And make sure to add an extra item or two so you'll be able to reciprocate if you receive an unexpected gift.
Give Gifts That Disappear:
Choose food or wine. Not only are consumable goodies almost universally appreciated, if you make them yourself they can be inexpensive and thoughtful, too. Another big plus is that they won't contribute to your recipients' household clutter. People often don't have the space to store the items, but feel too guilty to give them away. Home-made brownies, for instance—tied up with festive ribbon, of course—won't pose that problem.
Avoid big Department Stores:
While large department stores might sound like a good bet because they carry items for all genders and ages, at this point their offerings are "extremely picked over". Big stores also get "hectic and stressful". You actually might spend more time looking and finding less.
Even under optimal circumstances, clothes are tough to get right. And when you're rushed and desperate, you're even more likely to buy a dud gift. At this late date, a lot of sizes will be out of stock anyway.
Embrace Gift Cards:
Who doesn't want a shopping spree at a favorite store? The key is to "jazz it up a little. Don't just give them this piece of plastic. Put a little effort into it. If you're giving someone a Starbucks' gift card, for example, put it in a coffee mug. If you don't have time to snare a physical card, many online retailers let you send virtual cards instantaneously via email.
Pare Your List:
The easiest way to get through your shopping list quickly is to knock people off it. You could use the money to go out to dinner together. If you do go that route, however, make sure your soon-to-be-ex gift recipients are on board. You're trying to pare your gift list, not your friend list.