I should preface this survival guide by admitting that I am a procrastinator. For example, this piece I’ve compiled to help my fellow procrastinators survive the final days before December 25, is two weeks late to our content manager. We are the reason you have to walk two kilometres from your car to the mall. We are the reason the malls are jammed. I’m sorry.
If you are reading this and, like me, you still have a majority of your shopping to do, here are a few of my foolproof tactics to help you make it out of the mall alive the week before Christmas.
Have a plan
Now is not the time to lollygag and wander aimlessly. Have an idea of how much time you’d like to spend shopping and which stores you’ll hit. Whether in the mall or running errands through town, a clear plan of attack will cut your shopping time (and stress!) significantly. Try searching online ahead of time to see which stores have what you need. Some retail websites have an indicator icon available to let you see if your product is in stock at your preferred location.
Leave the kids at home
Any parent knows that planning to bring the kids along for the fun can put the kibosh on your plan pretty quickly. Not only will you be trying to shop for them while they’re right there, but chances are your little ones will take this opportunity to add the newest Barbie or Thomas the Tank Engine to their list. You don’t need either distraction. Draw straws with your partner – one stays, the other goes.
Have a budget and write it down
In my family, lists are key. Well, those, and gift receipts. We don’t take chances. Other ParentsCanada staffers prefer to give meaningful surprise gifts to those they love. Either way, if you’re a last minute shopper, make a list. It will help you stay on task and will keep your budget down. Shopping with the cash in hand is another great way to curb spending. Rather than charging your purchases, put the exact cash for your predetermined budget into envelopes with the names of each individual you’re shopping for. No matter what you buy, when the money for that person is gone, their gifts are done.
If all else fails… gift cards
If you’re out of ideas or have left shopping to December 24th, gift cards can be a great present. Sure some say they’re impersonal, but they allow the recipient to purchase what their heart desires without worrying about hurting your feelings by asking for the gift receipt. Plus, most grocery stores, gas stations and drug stores carry an array of cards for different interests so if you really have left shopping until Christmas Eve, you can still get a great gift right around the corner from home.