The harsh reality? Christmas and Hanukkah are a few days away, and for many consumers, the shopping is not yet complete. But you don’t have to put procrastination on your list of holiday stressors; finishing up won’t be as bad or as harmful to your finances as you fear as long as you keep a few things in mind.
Shopping is Just a Click Away, But …
Many of us turn to online shopping for the convenience, but as you place your orders, be mindful of shipping times and fees. E-commerce sites should have these times and charges prominently displayed this week, but do a little digging if the info isn’t front and center. You’ll find that many sites will offer free or discounted expedited shipping to ensure your packages arrive on time. However, there still could be some snags in the process, so unless you’re ordering a digital gift certificate you might want to opt for in-store shopping juuuust in case.
Dealing With the Crowds
If you need to hit the stores, make a list – and not in just your head. It’ll be hectic out there and you’ll want to stay on track. You can use the Memo function on your phone or even an old-fashioned piece of paper will do! If you have to work this week, check store hours. You’ll find that many stores open early and stay open late to accommodate shoppers like yourself. And stores are usually not as hectic during these off-hours.
Keep Your Cool
Whether you are shopping online or in-store, try not to get swept away by deep discounts. While deals are exciting and enticing, remember that 50 percent off means that you’re still spending 50 percent. If a discount can be applied to the items on your list, go for it, but otherwise, walk away.
If you’re out of ideas or out of time, you can also consider the following options.
- The coolest new digital gift. Check out GiftYa, which is the gift of custom shopping! You can give your recipient money to shop at any place in the country, whether it’s their favorite mom & pop boutique in town or a big box store, like Target. You can customize the GiftYa and even create a little video to send along with it. They’ll receive it by text, link their debit card to it and then when they use their debit card in the store, the money will be immediately refunded. Nothing to remember, and no expiration dates. Is that cool or what?
- Gift Cards.Your grocery store and your local drugstore chains will have gift cards available for a variety of retailers. These cards can also be purchased online and they usually come with an option to notify the recipient via email. Just remember to read the terms and conditions carefully as some gift cards may have fees attached to them. Before you purchase one of these full-price gift cards, look for discounted gift cards at GiftCardGranny.com. Most are digital and they can be emailed to the recipient in minutes.
- Memberships/Subscriptions. Museum or zoo memberships or a subscription to a favorite magazine are always appreciated.
- Do-it-Yourself gifts. If you’re at least a half-decent baker, you can whip up a batch of your “famous” cookies or muffins and package them in a gift box. Better yet, you can give them a nice container they can re-use.
- Say it with Booze. Pick something up at the liquor store. Most liquor stores even carry decent gift bags that you can purchase in a pinch.
- Photos. Some drugstore chains have online photo centers that can help you put together a quick present. CVS Photo, for instance, offers a service where you can order prints, cards and even photo books in as little as an hour. Walmart Photo offers a similar service where you can choose from cards and various prints – including collage prints and mounted prints – to be created for you in an hour.
This article originally appeared on Credit.com. It has since been updated.