The Chronic Last Minute Christmas Shopper’s Guide To Surviving The Holiday Rush

Rush, rush, I can feel it, I can feel you all through me.

Thrill and panic aside, there are tried-and-tested ways to get through the last minute shopping list without sacrificing holiday cheer.


For the record, one that is a solid first after so long, let it be known that by some odd stroke of efficiency, I have managed to already complete my Christmas shopping sometime last week. Now, it might not seem much, but if you know my perpetually procrastinating self, I enjoy beating the buzzer on the 23rd of December. Sometimes I like to push my known limits and do some last, last minute on the eve of Christmas, because you never what wrappings and trimmings you’ll need to spruce up the presents you specially picked out for friends and family, and well, to score more holiday deals. So, imagine my surprise upon realizing that all was well taken care of earlier than usual, and in record time, no less.

You see, I actually do prefer shopping later than most. It’s not ideal, what with the throng of people packed in the mall, the snaking lines at the counters, and the year-end exhaustion weighing down on you at every turn of the store, but just like any adrenaline junkie, there’s a thrill that comes with panic, which is all the more heightened by the surfacing holiday cheer. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1996 Christmas adventure, Jingle All The Way, might have something to do with this fascination for the last minute, because while I don’t necessarily forget, I have to get the most perfect gift for people near and dear to me each and every time.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: With all the surplus of time and the abundance of online alternatives to shop in the middle of the pandemic, how come I am still pushing my last minute luck? Well, simply put, nothing quite beats the racing rush of the holidays in the commercial context. Besides, with windows of opportunity to shop in-store with utmost care, there’s just more assurance and certainty to picking things up in real life as compared to straining one’s eyes through pages and pages of options in e-commerce sites. The only surprise I like is giving it to people, and not necessarily on myself when things don’t exactly match up from the designated dot com.

So, as someone who claims honor and pride in last minute shopping, it felt fitting to share the years of knowledge and experience that have served me well over the years. I know I’m not alone when it comes up to taunting the frame of time. And if anyone finds themselves stumped, frustrated or overwhelmed, trust me, there are ways to get things done efficiently to the most optimal of results. Think of it as a method to the madness.

You don’t have to subscribe to it all the time, but it’s nice to have it as an added skill set, just in case:

Make A List, Check It Twice

Since you’re already pushing it in terms of the limits of time and the magnitude of people, write down a list of people who you want to give gifts to, as well as of a number of things you’d think they would potentially like after attacking the wrapping paper on Christmas day. It’s also helpful for a last minute shopper to follow a reverse order from important to very, very, very important.

Map Out Where You Want And Have To Go

This is more mental, but it’ll help you a great deal if basing off your prepared list, you know where to head to from store to store. At this point, we assume you fairly know you’re way around the mall so it wouldn’t be that much of a challenge. Oh, and make sure you enter necessary spots with focus and purpose.

Keep Everything In Close Proximity

A pro tip: If you can shop in one place, it would best for you. I personally enjoy shopping last minute in department stores because more often than not, they have it all for you. There will be a lot who have the same strategy, so be sure to clip those elbows and maneuver the multiple floors like a boss. If you can’t find everything you want, you can check out nearby stores that won’t see you running from one end to the other.

Set A Budget

It is self-explanatory, yes, but it needs reiterating, especially when shopping last minute. Again, it is easy to get caught up with warm fuzzies of Christmas, or that’s just your body overheating from all the walking, but setting a budget that’s just right per person will help you in the decision making process between this or that. This also means being on the lookout for discounts and deals scattered all over the stores. Remember, it doesn’t have to ring in a lot of cash; it just has to be essential or special.

Remember, Food Is Always A Good Idea

When fresh out of ideas and before it gets frustrating, your list of last minute gifting list will benefit from food. Who doesn’t like to eat, especially during the holidays? You can also even get a little creative and curate themed baskets, bundles, and bags of goodies that will surely be a hit during the exchange of gifts.

Think Small And Smart

Forget what they say that bigger is better, because that person has probably never heard of the wonders of a gift card. By picking up these smart presents at the last minute counter, you not only save time, effort, and wrapping paper, you also know that they will be able to get what they really with the amount you’ve given. Now, if you want to really get actual gifts, make a beeline for the accessories or jewelry section, because those are clustered in a quiet corner and are a guaranteed charmer on Christmas day. With less to carry, you can better navigate the crowded spaces better.

Save The Self Love For Later

Yes, you will get distracted by many, many, many things you will want for yourself, but a little exercise of patience will do you well. One, you never know what you’re going to get for Christmas, and two, prices post-holidays are guaranteed to get a significant shaving of price. It is infinitely more gratifying to get something after a considerable amount of tine, especially when it’s a gift from you to you. Besides, you will want to get the job done and go through everyone else on the list first before picking up some things for yourself.

If time isn’t quite on your side on the last minute adventure, you can always try Christmas Eve. Sure, operating hours are tighter, but there are less likely people out on this day, so gift shopping will be fairly easier. There’s less spending guilt and remorse on this day, too. It is the night before Christmas after all, and not a creature will be stirring. Well, except maybe you. You were good and played nice, right?