The Procrastinator’s Guide to Holiday Shopping (or what not to do if you actually want to buy gifts this season)

No matter how much I think I have my sh*t together I always find myself scrambling for the “perfect Christmas gift” on December 24. It’s not like Christmas falls on a different date every year or that I haven’t been reminded on a daily basis since Halloween to start my holiday shopping and yet…

This year I had the crazy idea that I could be one of those people who shop for holiday gifts throughout the year. I would pick up the perfect presents as I found them and squirrel them away until the holidays.

And then I snapped out of it.

I think that I’m a much better shopper in full-on panic mode. That doesn’t mean that I actually buy better gifts when I’m panicking; it simply means that I get more creative.  For instance, in years past, our local 24-hour pharmacy’s “As seen on TV” section has been a real life saver. The Snuggie was the inspiration for the “couch potato” themed gift for my youngest son which included popcorn and a couple of DVDs and I tossed the infamous Ped Egg in a basket with some foot cream and nail polish for a friend. Done!

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So, you may be wondering how I get myself into this predicament every year—or maybe you’re not, but I’m going to tell you anyway. I usually don’t procrastinate especially when it’s something I enjoy – and I truly enjoy picking out gifts for others. I think the problem is that there is just so much to choose from that I get distracted.

It goes something like this:

First, I go online to browse. I don’t want to head out to a store, or 12—only to find nothing worth buying so, I browse. I check out the GAP website looking for more clothes for my 17-year-old because I have no idea what else to buy him. I scroll through the long-sleeve shirt section but as I scroll back to the top, I notice the GapFit tab. I could use some more yoga pants, I think. I’ll just see what they have and add stuff to my list.

15 minutes and $60 later I have new yoga pants – my husband can wrap these for me – but no shirts for my kid.

Then, I make another major gaffe by “peeking” at Amazon.

It’s like a black hole.

I bounce from Young Adult books for my youngest to shoes for my 17-year-old to stocking stuffers (ooh, gloves!) to the new Kindle HDX.  Then I take a detour to look at the Holiday Gift Guide which makes me remember all of the magazines that I have been saving with Holiday Gift Guides so I abandon my cart and start to flip pages.

I love Gift Guides. They have absolutely nothing that I would ever buy for anyone – ever – yet, I can’t stop buying magazines that scream “Best Ever Holiday Gift Guide” on the cover. I am positive that one year there will be something that strikes a cord but so far – zip. I mean, who on earth would want a $165 Oscar de la Renta ceramic Shell Crab Condiment Server??

When the “fun” of online shopping wears off I often head to the mall (although usually not on the same day lest you think I’m crazy). I always believe that the festive atmosphere of shopping malls around the holidays will compel me to finish my holiday shopping.

Usually, however, it compels me to buy more gifts for myself.

Just so we are clear, I rarely shop for myself – seriously – I need to have a reason to shop and wearing the same pair of jeans for years does not qualify as a reason. However, no matter where I go I can always find something that I want (notice that I didn’t say need) during the holidays. This time I found the perfect pair of pants, the best handbag ever, and sunglasses that block the sun and don’t make me look like a bug!

And so it goes:  one thing for a family member and five things for me.

This pattern of online shopping followed by mall shopping can go on for a couple of weeks. Inevitably it leads to shopping burnout which, in turn, leads to me shopping at the 24-hour pharmacy on December 24.

I already see the Sobakawa Buckwheat pillow and/or the Abraham Lincoln Chia head in someone’s future.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. I so hear you! Thank God this year we are driving down to Florida with my sister and her brood for Christmas, As a result, shopping will be minimized to one gift per person as the main gift to all of us is Christmas in the sand!

    That said, next year will be, inevitably, the usual!

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  2. Great idea – a family trip as a gift. Next year..

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  3. I have the same problem, only when I buy gifts for people I often like what I’m buying so much that I purchase the same exact thing for myself!

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