Holiday Shopping – tips for last minute purchases (aka how to save time and have less stress)

Ever had this holiday shopping nightmare?

Twas the night before Christmas

And all through the house

Not a creature was stirring…

except for you because – oh crud! – the gifts still aren’t done yet!

That’s not a fun way to spend the holiday season, right? Always feeling like you’re scrambling at the last minute for something?

Today is December 14th. You’ve got 11 days until Christmas. You’ve got one day less until Hanukkah and one day more until Kwanzaa. If you haven’t yet finished all of your holiday shopping, and you don’t want to experience the aforementioned nightmare in real life, here are some steps that you can take to get things done and keep that holiday cheer.

Holiday shopping: Git ‘er done

Make a list of everyone you need to shop for. For an example, see this spreadsheet. Notate ideas for gifts, from which store you plan to purchase (or ideas for stores), when you’ll give the gift in person or the date you’ll need to ship the gift by in order to pay only regular shipping instead of expedited. (Click here for those shipping dates.) Some folks try to keep all of this stuff in their head, and it winds up getting jumbled up with all of the other stuff that they’ve got swirling around up there. Or, others jot down random thoughts on various scrap papers, so these ideas are spread out into several places (like a purse, a drawer, a desk, the glove compartment, etc.). Get all of your holiday shopping thoughts and plans into one document (either handwritten or digital).

Shop in the order of when you need their presents by. For example, if you’ll see Suzy in person on December 22nd, but you need to ship Juan’s package by December 17th in order for it to arrive on time, you should be shopping for Juan first. You can use the spreadsheet to sort by “need by” date or “ship by” date so you can follow that timeline.

If you don’t have multiple deadlines, you might consider shopping by merchant. You can sort the spreadsheet by “purchase from this store” so that you can purchase clusters of gifts all at one time.

If you’re not digitally inclined, go with paper. You can do this in paper format by simply listing everyone who comes to mind, notating the same info from the spreadsheet, then going back and numbering each person in the order you’d like to work on this list. Or, if the thought of trying to follow a specific order makes you a little anxious, grab your scrap papers (or write the info on sticky notes) and create a visual timeline of when you’d like things to happen. As you finish with a gift, you can toss that slip of paper. Or if you need to change the order that you want to work in, simply re-order those sticky notes.

Drop shipping is an option. If you realize that you’ve missed the deadlines to ship from your place to somewhere else, you can always purchase from merchants who will ship directly to your friend or loved one. In the old days, this was called “drop shipping.” Now, it’s an option with many online merchants. Even if gift-wrapping isn’t offered, your special someone will get to unwrap the shipping materials and open up a present from you.

And of course, there are always gift cards. If the thought of trying to cram in a lot of shopping takes you out of the festive mode of the holiday season, you could take the easier way out and just get gift cards for everyone. If you’re saying to yourself, “A gift card isn’t very personal,” I’d say to that, “Remember, it’s the thought that counts. And it’ll save your sanity.” Or, you might be thinking, “It’s cheaper to buy presents because I can get a great deal if I look hard enough to buy something expensive-looking that’s on sale.” As an alternative to that, you might purchase 10 $25 gift cards even though you’d planned to spend only $20 per person on gifts. Your time savings will make up for the increased amount of money that you might spend.

The holiday season is supposed to be a time of peace and joy. Please don’t let the pressure of gift-giving take away from that. Use the above holiday shopping guide to make life easier, or feel free to share your own methods below.



For more info about how to save time with lists for things like holiday shopping – and other productivity tools and tips – from time management keynote speaker Helene Segura, click here.

About Helene Segura, M.A. Ed., CPO®

As The Inefficiency Assassin™, Time Management Fixer Helene Segura empowers professionals on the go with the tools to slay lost time. Personal inefficiency at work leads to increased stress levels, lower morale, higher absenteeism, more turnover – and rising spending on employee health care and hiring. Why not improve productivity, decrease stress levels, and increase profits instead?The author of four books – two of which were Amazon best-sellers – Helene Segura has been the featured organization expert in more than 200 media interviews. She has coached hundreds of clients to productivity success and performance improvement by applying neuroscience and behavioral modification techniques to wipe out destructive, time-wasting habits.Helene turns time management on its head by sharing both client case studies and pop culture examples to teach her mind-bending framework for decreasing interruptions, distractions and procrastination so that companies can spend more time generating revenue.

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