Time is ticking down. We are entering the dreaded “last minute shopper” zone! You want to make sure you don’t fall into common consumer traps that can end up costing you extra time and money! This time of year stores are in full attack mode. They know they have your attention and want you to spend as much time and money as possible inside of their doors. And it seems the closer to the deadline you get, the easier it is to overspend and lose track of time. So it is time to start organizing home paperwork and come up with a plan before you leave the door, or open the computer, to finish your last minute shopping.
Last Minute Shopping: Make a Plan
It is important to have a plan. This may mean sitting down and organizing home paperwork. Come up with a comprehensive list. Include who you have left to shop for, your budget for their gift, and ideas for what you are searching for. You don’t want to spend the day in a mall to come home and realize you’ve forgotten your daycare provider, dog walker, or Aunt Ethel.
Decide in advance how much time you will spend shopping. Wear a watch or keep your phone within reach, consider setting reminder alarms. In decorated spaces full of music and surrounded by throngs of shoppers it is easy to lose track of time. If you don’t pay attention to the clock ticking by you may not finish your shopping, again. If a reminder bing tells you there is only an hour left of shopping time you’re more likely to put down the scarf that would look great on YOU and search for the next gift.
Take Time to Ask Questions
Shoppers in a hurry sometimes make assumptions that can come back to haunt them. Instead of assuming something can be returned or exchanged without difficulty, ask! In this season some store will put in place special return policies, or you may be in a store you don’t normally frequent. Not all stores will accept returns or exchanges, or they will do so with stipulations. You may feel the press of last minute shopping, but don’t purchase an item that may need to be exchanged for a different size or color without asking about a return policy.
Online Shopping? Stop Procrastinating!
Many people love the ease of online shopping. So many choices at your fingertips! No fighting for parking or bundling up to wade through snow and ice. But your window on this great resource is closing, because you need to build in shipping time.
Still take the time to do some shopping around, many sites will offer deals on free shipping to capture more of your business. Each site is different, but it largely true that sites guarantee Christmas arrival if you order by December 20.
Gifts to Give a Second Look
While some consider a gift card “the easy way out” or impersonal that is really no longer the case. There are a huge variety of gift cards available to you today. You no longer need to go with a more generic big box retailer, smaller more specialty shops are also offering gift cards.
Want something to wrap? Find a small gift to add pizazz to your card. A great mug to go with your coffee gift card. A bag of popcorn and a cozy blanket to snuggle up go great with a DVD membership.
As a professional organizer I spend most of the year fighting clutter. So I’m going to suggest the clutter free gift of wine, a nice bottle of liquor, or a special box of chocolates. Consider things that your gift recipient would consider splurges and not buy for themselves.
Start organizing home paperwork and get your lists in order. Then it is time to tackle that last minute shopping. Stay focused and you’ll have success!