Last Minute Holiday 2010 Shopping Tips


Where does the time go? Is it really only 2 weeks till Christmas? I haven’t even begun to shop! At least this year I have an excuse: I was racing in the first Catalina Grand Prix motorcycle race in 52 years last weekend, and getting ready for that was extremely time and money intensive. You can read about that here , if you’d like. Now I find myself with little more than a few days to shop, and not much money to spend on gifts.

Lucky for me, I’ve procrastinated and been reluctant to spend money my whole life, so this is not unexplored territory for me. I also work for all day looking for deals and shopping online, so I’m only getting better at it. The rest of you last minute types better hurry though, only a few days left to shop online and guaranty delivery in time to get it under the tree.

Online retailers have designated December 17th as “Free Shipping Day ” and for many of them that’s the last day to order and make sure there are presents to open on Christmas morn. Over 1,300 merchants have signed on and all of them will have some sort of free shipping deal going on that day.

If you are stuck for gift ideas, have a look around . Did you know we have dozens of product specific deals?   You’ll find dozens of items listed in store after store with special discount pricing. We spend hours each day looking for the best deals online, and list them here for you, so you know you are getting a deal.

Already missed the deadline for guaranteed on-time delivery? I wouldn’t stake my life on it, but Amazon , Kmart and a few other big retailers have distribution warehouses all over the country.  Add in their reputation for quick shipping and I would be comfortable ordering gifts from them as late as 12/21. 

If you’re online shopping for gifts 12/22 or 12/23 you’re playing Christmas Roulette and don’t be surprised if you lose.  UPS doesn’t make deliveries via chimney at midnight Christmas Eve, you’re thinking of St. Nick (named for his nick of time delivery).

If you miss your chance online, unfortunately that means you’re going to the store. Don’t despair though, all is not lost. Many online retailers–like Sears and Best Buy –allow you to buy online and pick up in your local store. This should save you the hassle of actually shopping at the store. And many times online order pick-ups have special designated parking spaces which will save you that headache. If not you’ll need to rope an accomplice in to circle the parking lot while you go inside and make the pick-up.

When all else fails here’s a few suggestions to make your life easier:

  • Shop first thing in the morning or later at night (if the store has extended Holiday hours) and during the week, not on Saturday or Sunday.

  • Go directly to the top or bottom level of the parking structure, or the outskirts of the parking lot. Everybody always wants the easy space, so save yourself time and start looking as far from the stores as possible.
  • Park on the street. Depending on where you are shopping, many times its easier to park across the street, or even around the corner from where you want to shop.
  • Avoid the mall altogether and shop smaller shops. What’s your time worth? If you save an hour and spend $20 more, isn’t that totally worth it?
  • Wait until the absolute last minute and shop on Christmas Eve when everyone else is relaxing with their family (My father always did his shopping after work on 12/23 at the earliest).

For the past couple of years I’ve done nearly all of my Christmas shopping in one day of walking along Magnolia Blvd in Burbank, CA . It’s a great stretch of road with an eclectic assortment of shops and it’s a long enough walk to get lots of thinking about gift giving done. Most medium and larger cities have at least one neighborhood, if not more, where you can get similar results. You might be surprised at what you find within walking distance of your house.

And when all else fails, you can always give cash.  People pretend it’s not as good a gift, but the way the economy is going they sure could use some help paying the credit card bill. If you want to wrap it, fold it and put it in a small box, or make a roll of small bills and put it in a coffee mug, then box and wrap the mug.

If you need a gift and you’re really short on cash, the easiest thing to do is make cookies.  One year I lived in New Orleans and I used to bring my local bartender fresh, warm plates of cookies and exchange them for beers.  Abita Turbodog does great chocolate chip cookies. 

Remember, everybody is being beat over the head with bad news about the economy every day, so this year at least there’s no need for an explanation.

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  1. Allegra.Ringo

    4 years ago

    I love Magnolia Blvd in Burbank!

    Also, I signed up for Amazon’s free one-month trial of Amazon Prime, which gives you free two-day shipping, and timed it so I’d have it during the holidays. I don’t need it year-round, but it’s really nice to have right now: it brings down the cost of ordering online, plus it means I can order a little later than I usually would, and not worry about gifts being late.

  2. DCStewart

    4 years ago

    Thanks so much for posting this.. I love the free shipping day coming up :) And I will gladly avoid the mall!

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