If you wait until the last minute to finish your Christmas shopping, there is a good chance that the item you want will be out of stock. Even if the item is in stock, it may carry a full price as the retailer carefully manages supply to demand. Regardless, there are ways for you to find last-minute Christmas shopping bargains, leading to big savings for you.
1. Visit the clearance center. There are two words or phrases in the retail lexicon that delight shoppers: clearance and close out. Typically, department stores set up a rack in an out-of-the-way area to feature clothing mark downs. You can also find bins and tables stacked with a variety of items, including wine glasses, power tools, art pieces and more. Clearance and close outs can be a hit or miss proposition — make sure that the reduced item is properly packaged and is not damaged.
2. Shop online. Depending on the retailer you can shop as late as Dec. 16 through Dec. 21 online and still have the item arrive in time for Christmas. Waiting until the last possible shopping day has its risk as a snowstorm could shut down the package delivery system for a day or two, with your gift arriving after Christmas. The advantage in waiting is that online retailers will often hold prices in check or reduce them on slower sellers to push out product. Tip: when you’re at the online check out, make use of the coupon code for additional savings.
3. Choose a gift card. You may have a gift price in mind when shopping for a family member or a friend. If the item you are considering is out of stock or if you are not certain what to get, a gift card can offer a bargain. Not for you, but for the shopper. For example, if you provide a $50 gift card, the gift recipient can use it anytime after Christmas. And that is when he or she will find bargains that may have been elusive before the big holiday. In effect, you will give this person a gift of far more value than the card’s worth.
4. Make it yourself. Who knew that you are an excellent quilter or a woodsmith? You might be the only person who is aware of your secret talent, perhaps thinking that you are not good enough to gift what you make to others. Get past your uncertainty and you may be pleasantly surprised come Christmas when a loved one unwraps a gift you made yourself. Some people enjoy the homemade touch and would appreciate what you made for them. Chances are your gift won’t cost you a lot other than the sweat and love you poured into it.
5. Give the gift to regift. It happens — you receive a gift item that you will never use. You thanked the giver, put the item away and forgot about it. Until now. Instead of gathering dust in your closet, consider who might appreciate the gift. As long as you do not regift it to the original giver, you can dust it off, wrap it and present it on Christmas.
6. Make a donation. For the person who has everything and says they do not want anything, you may find yourself in a dilemma. You want to remember them at Christmas, but you do not want the occasion to pass without offering a gift. One gift that will save you money, at least on your tax return, is making a donation in the person’s name to a qualified charity. Find a charity that your recipient supports, make a donation and then claim the tax deduction when you file your IRS return next year.
If you are absolutely stumped for what to give a love one, you can always enclose a brief note in a card and the promise of providing a service as a gift. Cleaning out your parent’s garage may not seem like a big deal to you, but it may be the best gift you’ll give this holiday season.
See Also — Merry Christmas: Now Take a Break!