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7 Tips for Last-Minute Holiday Shopping

Burlington Church Street Shopping in Winter


The holiday season is in full swing, and it truly is the most wonderful time of the year. That is, until you realize it’s already December and you have not yet tackled your list of gift recipients. If, like many of us, you’re a last-minute shopper, you know that holiday gift-giving can be stressful and costly when you’re rushing to buy presents days, or even weeks, before the first gift exchange. So, before you start mass-purchasing prepaid debit cards (which, by the way, is not a bad gift seeing as the recipient can get literally whatever they want), follow these seven tips to help reduce stress, save time and money, and simplify last-minute shopping without sacrificing thoughtful gift-giving.



The first mistake any holiday shopper can make is going at it without a list. Holiday shopping is no easy task—to dive in headfirst without getting organized only sets you up for disaster in the form of meaningless gifts, overspending, and scrooge-like emotions. It’s important to think through the loved ones you want to buy for and at the same time, jot down any ideas of what they might like for gifts this year. Sticking to a list of gift recipients and gift ideas will help you avoid making last-minute additions or over-purchasing. No more forgetting if you already bought for that person or disliking the random item you grabbed in a holiday panic. Make a list, check it twice, and then hit the stores or hop online knowing you’ve got a plan!



Sometimes when shopping truly is last-minute, it can be easier to sit down in your holiday pajamas with a cup of cocoa and do all your shopping in one place—online. You eliminate the need to get dressed and out the door (no easy task if you’re carting around one or more kids), drive from store to store in traffic, and wait in obscenely long lines at checkout (queue child meltdown).

What about shipping? Skip shipping to home and send your gift directly to the gift recipient! Watch for deals on free express or 2-day shipping this time of year. Online retailers love to offer shipping deals with minimum purchase amounts that will guarantee your gift arrives on time. Of course, that might not be the case this year with shipping delays, but we have a few tips for how to get around supply chain issues, including…



One of the best ways to find thoughtful gifts for the people on your list is visiting local shops. If you’re struggling with gift ideas, there’s no better place to get inspiration than window shopping in town. Now you may be thinking, how is this going to save time? Although it might seem less efficient than shopping online, chances are you have a downtown with local businesses conveniently located on one street (perhaps even a coffee shop or bakery where you can grab a coffee and a treat for holiday shopping fuel). Purchasing items in a store can save you time if you don’t know what you’re getting someone. Online, you need to have some idea what to search for but in a shop, you’re presented with all kinds of ideas you can see and touch. And while you’re shopping, you’re supporting the small businesses in your community and helping your local economy thrive.



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Another time-saving perk you’ll enjoy while shopping in your local stores is the ability to have someone else do the wrapping for you. Some stores will offer full gift wrapping while others might ask you if you’d like the supplies to wrap yourself. Either way, you’re on a tight schedule and you’ve got more buying to do, so avoiding the wrapping altogether or having to buy wrapping supplies will help you in the end.


When it comes to holiday spirit and meaningful gift-giving, it’s likely that gift cards are not the first thing that come to your mind. However, gift cards can be a great option if you know where your loved ones like to shop. Gift cards are also one of the best options in terms of saving time for all you last-minute holiday shoppers. You may know your dad’s favorite store or that your mom loves a particular chocolate shop in town. Maybe your sister buys everything—literally everything—from Amazon because there’s no time in her busy schedule to actually walk into a store. There can be such a thing as “thoughtful gift card giving”.



This sounds a little creepy, but it’s one of the best ways to save time trying to figure out what to get the people on your list. In this digital age, it might be right in front of you! Social media is a great way to get gift ideas by looking at your friends’ recent likes and places they have been or visit frequently like a local coffee shop, the gym, or the movie theater. Pinterest is an excellent resource for gift-giving inspiration in general, but if your loved ones have Pinterest accounts, check out their boards and items they are saving. You might find someone has an interest or hobby you didn’t know about or an obsession with accessories like oversized winter scarfs. Not only can social media help you find the perfect gift, it can also save you money. A lot of retailers will present special savings and deals that are exclusive to their followers. So be sure to keep an eye out for discounts!



Faced with a large group of friends to buy for at your annual holiday get-together? Chances are you aren’t the only one scrambling last minute. Rather than buy a gift for everyone in your group, try suggesting a fun game like a Yankee gift exchange, where you only buy one gift with a price limit. There are dozens of gift exchange games you can find online. Not only will this save you time and some serious cash, it could become an annual tradition promising heartfelt memories and a few good laughs.


Time passes quickly this time of year but there’s still sand in the hourglass. Take a few minutes to make your list and follow some of these simple tips. With this advice and a little luck, you can get through the giving season stress-free and perhaps with a little extra money in your pocket!


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Jevonne McLaughlin

About Jevonne McLaughlin

Jevonne McLaughlin is the Vice President of Marketing at VSECU. She oversees the Marketing department’s initiatives to create awareness around our unique brand identity and is responsible for designing, implementing, and monitoring effective marketing strategies that align with VSECU’s business goals, mission, and vision. Jevonne enjoys a good glass of wine; spending time with her two children; and snuggling with her cat, Merlot.
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