Retailers and suppliers have been urging consumers to shop early this holiday season, but that doesn’t mean everyone has been paying attention. If you’ve pushed off their shopping until the last minute, we’ve got you covered! Here are six ways to keep your last-minute shopping stress-free and inexpensive.
- Order online and pick up in-store
Don’t sweat over delayed shipping or the impossibly long lines in stores before the holidays. Instead, order what you need online and arrange to pick it up in the store. Most retailers offer this option now, and choosing it will give you the best of both worlds. You can browse from the comfort of your home, and pick up what you need (provided they still have it in stock) in no time at all, usually on the same day or within 24 hours. As an added bonus, many stores have designated parking spaces for shoppers who are picking up these types of orders.
- Get stocking stuffers at the dollar store
The dollar store is your best friend when it comes to last-minute stocking stuffers for your family. Browse carefully for fun finds, from activity books and sticker packs for the little ones, to scented candles and funky-colored nail polish for your tweens and teens, to fuzzy slippers and socks for your better half. Best of all, no one has to know they came from the dollar store!
- Send a gift card through Giftly
Gift cards are the best cheat for the overwhelmed shopper, but they can also be a tad impersonal when you want to show you really care. Take the easy way out and keep the personal touch in your gift-giving by purchasing a gift card through Giftly. Here’s how it works: You suggest a gift item for your recipient, like “spa day” or “new electronic gadget” and then select a place where they can choose the gift. Or, you can leave it open for your friend to decide. You can send your “gift” via email, text message or even deliver it in person. Add a customized message, and the recipient can use the electronic gift card at your chosen place, or, if you’ve left it open, wherever Visa gift cards are accepted. Gift-giving, done!
- Shop on Dec. 14 for free shipping
What’s not to love about Free Shipping Day? Save your last-minute online shopping for this day in mid-December to save on shipping costs. Unless you’re purchasing items from overseas, most retailers will still be able to get your items delivered in time for the holidays.
- Shop small businesses
Avoid the heavy crowds and empty shelves by shopping at smaller, independently owned stores. They’re likely to be better stocked, even this late in the season, and you can enjoy more personalized service, too. In addition, small businesses are still hurting from the coronavirus lockdown and more recently, from the spike in inflation. Shopping at local mom-and-pop stores will be helping a struggling business stay afloat during a time of year when kindness counts most.
- Shop during non-peak hours
Another way to avoid the big crowds and bare shelves is to shop during slower business hours. In retail-speak, this means hitting the shops as soon as they open in the morning. The shelves in most stores are restocked overnight, and if you get there before the crowds, you’ll get first picks at the best gifts. Aside from a bigger selection, shopping in an emptier store will make it easier to make responsible, budget-conscious decisions.
Leaving some or all of your holiday gift-shopping for the last minute doesn’t mean you need to blow your budget, fight big crowds, or try to make your list work when you’re facing empty shelves. Use the tips outlined above for last-minute shopping that’s easy on the wallet, light on the stress, and makes it possible to find the perfect gifts.
Your Turn: How do you make last-minute shopping a stress-free and inexpensive experience? Share your hacks with us in the comments.