I am an expert at last minute Christmas shopping. In fact, it's all I know. I don't believe there has ever been a year I started shopping for Christmas more than one week prior. Christopher always says we should start earlier next year, but I don't think I could do it any other way.
The pros to last minute shopping:
- Lots of sales!
- You get it done in a much shorter amount of time.
- The attitude of 'it's either this, or nothing' makes the decision of which gift to get a lot easier!
- Time constraint and lack of choices forces you to get creative, which is good!
- Most importantly: Have grateful children! The kind of children that are down with the whole 'you get what you get and you don't get upset' mentality.
- If you have kids, it's best to do this in two parts: (a) First trip, take the kids and shop for extended family members and friends. Having the kids with you works for you here, not against you. They will point out on the shelves what things they'd love to see under the tree for themselves. This will give you an idea of what's left that they will be ecstatic about. (b) Second trip, find a sitter willing to watch the kids for at least 5 hours. This will be your last shopping trip... it's go time.
- On that first trip, if there are items you think won't last until the second trip, we employ the two parent, second secret cart trick. Second parent will exclaim, "Oh, honey! I forgot to get <insert boring, non kid related item here>." Then revert back to aisles to pick up low stock items and stash in a cart in a non-conspicuous area. Be sure to check on that cart pretty often, so other crazy last minute shoppers don't mistake it as a restocking cart. When going to check out, parent two exclaims "We should pick up a frozen pizza for dinner, I'm way too tired to cook!" While parent 1 pays and loads the kids in the car, parent two grabs frozen pizza, a bottle of Chardonnay or Bailey's, second secret cart and pays. Distracting the kids in the van with an interesting movie is very important here, so they don't really notice the extra bags Daddy is loading into the back of the van.
- You are already halfway done! One trip, one store! Note, this store must be of the Target variety. It could work at a mall, I suppose, but would require much more skill and take a lot longer.
- Second trip, I suggest picking two stores maximum. Traffic is killer those few days prior to Christmas, so at least half of your allotted sitter time is sucked up sitting in the minivan. Although, the traffic does give you some precious minutes to use your iPhone to search which stores have certain things in stock. Our two go-to stores are: Toys R Us and Super Target, unless the other Target has something Super Target is out of...
- During this last shopping trip, remember: breathe... the universe is on your side.
- Allot a dollar amount per kid. This way you don't go overboard in the overabundance of toys and deals. Also, if you stick pretty close to your budget, when you get home and the 2 year old has 20 presents and the 10 year old only has 7, you'll feel okay about it because, they are overall receiving an equal amount of 'love'.
- Try to get at least one large (in size) present for each child. It makes for awesome presentation value Christmas morning.
- Whatever you can't find at store 1, you will at store 2. (If not, then you will have a procrastination induced creative surge and come up with a more awesome idea.)
- Stocking stuffers! Don't forget the stocking stuffers. I usually skip the 'stocking stuffer aisle' and get all these in the Target dollar section. Those stocking stuffer aisle items are crazy expensive for not so awesome things. Plus, the Target dollar section always seems to amaze me with their offerings!
- Also, don't forget tape, wrapping paper and batteries.
- Once everyone is done, drop the presents off and hide them at the house before picking the kids up from the sitter.
- It's okay to break the rules. I do all the time.... this year, while at store 2, I did have a last minute awesome idea, but Target was out of both the Kinect AND the Kinect Star Wars game. So, Christopher called Game Stop and it turns out, they had both the items needed, they were used/refurbished and saved us about $50!! SCORE! This would add a little extra time, but we worked it out by dropping off and hiding the loot at the house and then split up. I went to pick up the kids while Daddy went in his car to GameStop and to get Smoothies (in case the kids ask where Daddy is).
- YOU ARE DONE SHOPPING!!!
- Remember that imperative bottle of Chardonnay and/or Baileys you bought on Trip 1? You'll need that for your late night gift wrapping sessions. I suggest Baileys and espresso if you are going to be up till the wee hours. While wrapping up, keep in mind that beautiful paper will just be a pile of crumbles on your floor in the morning. Perfection is not necessary in this case.
Do you have any last minute tips? I'd love to hear your tricks!
<3, Tabi :D