There are eight days remaining until Christmas — seven for those whose family and/or friends open their gifts on Christmas Eve — and if you haven’t done your shopping, finding the right gift may seem like a daunting task.
But there’s no need to panic. With a little ingenuity, determination and creativity, there’s still time to shop online or in-person utilizing retailers large and small.
Here are 10 tips designed to help you complete your holiday shopping list on a deadline:
Shop for the holiday junkies on your list
Most people have at least one family member or friend who loves the holidays more than any other time of year — the type of person who collects decorations or puts up multiple Christmas trees throughout their home. Shop for them first. Items like keepsake ornaments, holiday figurines or even inflatable lawn decorations can make great gifts for these folks — and they’re easily found almost everywhere this time of year.
Do some online research
While Cyber Monday — the first Monday after Thanksgiving — is traditionally known for online deals and discounts, several venues have extended those deals this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Depending on where gifts are being shipped to, there may still be time to order online and have the gifts in hand by the big day. A few hours of comparison shopping and analyzing shipping rates and times will be time well spent.
Give a screen-grabbed image
Some shoppers may find the perfect gift online only to discover it can’t be shipped until after the holidays. If it truly is the “perfect gift,” consider going ahead and ordering it. Instead of fretting over shipping times, simply hit the “Print Screen” button on the item in question, print it out and insert it into a card with the message, “This is what I got you. It will be here soon!” The recipient will eventually get the item and enjoy the added gift of anticipation in the meantime.
Look for local creators close to home
There are several reputable online store sites, crowdfunding sites and e-commerce sites online featuring work by cottage-industry creators, including arts, crafts, games, jewelry, books and other works. Consider ordering from these venues and arranging for local pick-up or delivery, if available. As with all online shopping, be sure to practice good cyber habits — make sure sites are secure and legitimate before ordering, and pay attention to rankings and feedback by previous customers.
Both physical and online versions of many magazines, newspapers and websites offer annual subscriptions, and many have options available to be given as gifts. Shoppers can also consider memberships to museums, online classes, online TV channels and services that offer subscription boxes for a variety of items, including video games, movies, clothes, collectibles, food and more. As demonstrated by the classic holiday movie, “Christmas Vacation,” even the jelly-of-the-month club is “the gift that keeps on giving the whole year through.”
Hit the “As Seen on TV” section
If online shopping isn’t an option, this is a good place to start with in-person shopping. Several stores have displays for items that are usually sold directly from manufacturers to customers through traditional TV ads or infomercials. These items can range from kitchen gadgets to work-out gear to lawn-and-garden products, but nearly all share at least two things in common: they’re usually innovative in some way and fairly new to the market, meaning your recipient isn’t as likely to already own one.
Go for the stomach
For most people, food makes a great gift, especially if the giver knows their favorites. Aside from the typical cheese-and-summer sausage gift sets and collections of cocoa and coffee, consider making your own candy, cookies or other baked goods. Just make sure to have a good idea of the recipients’ tastes and any dietary restrictions they might have.
Those who can’t find great gifts can at least make them pretty. If unsure about the gift itself, consider going the extra mile by spending a little more on gift wrap, gift bags or greeting cards. Try to choose paper or cards with a theme or characters that match a recipient’s particular fandom. If your presentation skills are lacking, try to find a retailer that offers gift wrapping.
Don’t be afraid to recycle
In most homes, there’s a good chance there is a new or nearly new gift from the past few years that’s just lying around. Consider giving these items as a gift — just make sure the person who gave it to you isn’t at the same gathering where it’s being given this year.
Share your stuff
If you share hobbies or interests with a loved one or friend, consider giving something from your collections. Books, movies, baseball cards, vintage toys — whatever the shared interest is, these items can not only serve as a great gift but may become a treasured item or heirloom for the recipient. Reminders of shared experiences, such as photos or framed ticket stubs, can also serve as intimate, heartfelt gifts. Just make sure you’re ready to part with it.
Above all, whether in person or online, shop safe and shop smart. And if you need more information about online shopping, check out the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information guide at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0020-shopping-online.