There’s still time: You’ve been a good-for-nothing slacker up until this point, but if you hustle now, no one will be the wiser. The stores are all still open and 24-hour shipping is still available, so get off your slacker ass early this morning and get started.
Make a List
We’ve said this before, but a mental list won’t do here — it’s got to be tangible. Either a piece of paper or a list in your phone is fine, but it’s got to be something where you can write down both the person and their gift idea, and you’ve got to be able to check them off when you’ve bought their item. “Making a list is important because if you don’t, you’re going to waste time and money and make stupid decisions,” says gift expert Aileen Avery, author of Gift Rap: The History and Art of Gift Giving.
“When making your list, you need not be too specific about the exact item you’re getting, but have a couple of ideas for each person you’re buying for,” Avery says. Now, this may be a last-minute procrastinator’s guide, but it’s not Christmas Eve, and it’s not Christmas morning, so you still have a little time, so try to put some real thought into what you want these gifts to be.
Go to Your Phone
When your list is done, your next step is not to fly out of your house and hit the stores — that comes later. The first thing you want to do is go on your phone and track down as many of those items as you can to see if you can get 24-hour guaranteed shipping. Even if you’re an old-fashioned kind of fella who loves the thrill of the hunt, fuck all that — you’ve got a lot of shit to buy and you’ve waited this long, so cut down on your stress by having stuff delivered to your front door tomorrow.
“Amazon makes it really easy to shop last-minute,” Avery says. “You can even get it shipped directly to that person and have it wrapped and with a gift receipt.” Yes, shipping may be pricey at this point, so you’re going to pay more, but keeping your stress under control during the holidays is definitely wise, so don’t be afraid to fork over extra money on shipping now. As Avery puts it, “if you’ve waited this long, that’s what you deserve.”
The only thing to beware of when on your phone is falling down your usual internet rabbit holes (this is why you made a list before starting to shop). So yeah, it’s interesting to learn about the mythical British landfill full of Star Wars figures, or the team that loses to the Harlem Globetrotters every night, but there’s no time for that now! Resist!
In addition to 24-hour shipping, while you’re on your phone, you may want to consider a few other gifts. Avery always recommends getting people experiences, and for those, you need not worry about shipping. These are great gifts, especially if someone is hard to buy for or doesn’t want stuff. Avery says to spend some time on Groupon or LivingSocial and get something there. Along with whatever you get, it helps to enhance the presentation by grouping it with an item, so if you get someone a spa day, you can wrap some bubble bath along with the envelope containing the printed-out Groupon, for example.
Subscription gifts are nice too, and once again, last-minute shipping isn’t required, so a beer-of-the-month club for your brewery-obsessed brother is an excellent gift. And don’t worry, subscription gifts usually only last three to six months, so there’s no need to pay for the whole year.
Make a Map
This need not be a tangible map, just a simple list of stores that you’re going to hit up. It helps to know what stores are where and what you’re getting from each. Also, avoid the mall and stores like Walmart and Target. These stores are mobbed on the weekend before Christmas and that’ll likely bleed over to Monday the 23rd as well. We’re not saying don’t go at all, but make it your last stop and reserve the human stampede for the end of your day (or maybe even wait until tomorrow, as they’re not quite as busy on Christmas Eve, weird as that sounds).
This is your last chance to shop local and get some cool shit, so take advantage of that. Hit up a local vintage record store for that music nut on your list and then head to that jewelry store your partner loves with the handmade jewelry. Unique gifts will show someone that you’re really thinking about them and that you understand their taste, so it’s best to take the time and track down items that they can’t get in some big chain store. Just make sure you’ve allotted yourself enough time for parking and driving around, because the downside of shopping at places like these is that none of them are one-stop-shopping.
If you’re feeling brave enough to face the crowds and you’ve gotten all the specialty shopping done, now’s the time to head to places like Best Buy for the tech gifts on your list and Kohl’s for the clothes you’re going to buy. These stores will be difficult to shop in, but if you cram down a meal and stick it out for a few more hours, you can chill out tomorrow and watch your favorite version of Scrooge as you sip down some sweet eggnog.
And isn’t that what Christmas is all about?