Christmas is just around the corner and with everyone going gaga over back to back sale activities, moving back and forth and doing a lot of shopping and mingling, the challenge is really about making it through the holiday rush successfully, buying all the things you need to buy and enjoy the Christmas festivities (because it’s really supposed to be celebrated).

While there are people who were born to be proactive girl scouts (talk about being ready all time of the day) and who have probably finished their Christmas shopping two or three months ago, there are also those who haven’t really started with anything yet —literally zero. *Can we see a raise of hands? * Generally, although we hate to admit it, most of us fall into the latter category and with our multi-work schedule and lots of extra-curricular affairs, there’s really no point in blaming.

Well, if you haven’t started with anything yet, don’t fret. There are tons of ways to conquer this holiday rush and some last-minute sale outbreak and although they are pretty laborious, they are very effective too!

Let us make a run down.

  1. Make a detailed list and set plans A and B

And now that we’re talking about the list, there is really no better way to start off but to actually make one. Who are your gift recipients this season? What are their likes? What are their preferences? What’s their favorite color? Will they use your gift? Make sure you set alternatives in case your first choice is not available or too pricey for your set budget.

Also, make a detailed list of everything you need to buy for yourself. Do you need a new pair of shoes? Or a new dress? Or a new gadget? How much is your maximum budget? What are your top priorities?

It also won’t hurt if you list down the stores you wish and/or need to visit. Is it a makeup store? A clothing store? A retail hub? Or maybe the supermarket? It’s always important to know what you want.

Remember that shopping in this hurdled season is a huge challenge to make sure you have your plans laid out. Create multiple plans and think of possible alternatives while creating your list.

  1. Compare shops

Okay, so every store is on sale (it’s obvious and it’s a trick). Still, we’re pretty sure that some stores will be cheaper than the others. Some may have better promotions or have wholesale deals which you may opt to avail especially if you are working on a tight budget.

Whether you’re ordering online or shopping at the mall, learn to find cheap thrills that will help you save cost and effort.

  1. Shop strategically

The rule is —know when is the perfect, non-peak hour to do your shopping. Most of the time, weekends and late weeknights are the busiest times during the holidays. This is the reason why most malls tend to extend their operating hours to accommodate more shoppers. Avoid the shopping rush and come on a non-peak weekday instead, best if it is in the early morning or afternoon.

  1. Try DIY

So you are an artsy Humpty Dumpty, why not maximize your creative prowess? As they say, the best gift one can receive this Christmas is something that is made with love and from the heart. If you love to bake and draw, you can give sweet treats and personalized art to your friends and loved ones  (Perdigon, 2015).

Aside from that, this can also be a cheaper alternative as you have to make things out of raw materials. It’s a good practice for business opportunities too! Who knows, right?

  1. Get gift cards and store vouchers

Okay, you are running out of ideas and you are not really sure if you are buying the right things for people. The trick is —get some gift cards. You will never go wrong with gift cards basically because they’re very practical for both you and your giftee. Not only will buying gift cards immensely cut down your shopping time, but they also allow the people you’re giving them to the freedom to get what they want, and when and where they’re getting them. It’s all win-win for all.

There is also a wide variety of stores where you can get gift cards and most of them are on sale especially if you plan to get bulk.

  1. Keep (and make sure you get) your receipts

Forgetting to ask for a receipt is one of the biggest mistakes a last-minute shopper can make, says frugal gift expert Leah Ingram (2010). “Gift receipts acknowledge that sometimes the gift misses the mark. This makes it easier if the recipient needs to exchange it.”Often, a gift receipt will give your recipient more time to return the item and avoids the tackiness of seeing the price on a regular receipt.

And here’s a bonus incentive for getting a receipt: “I keep the gift in the bag with the receipt and wait until the day before to wrap it,” says Cole. “If I find something better or cheaper, returns are easy and I’m not really committing, because I have the gift in the bag with the receipt. During the holiday season, everyone is more likely to buy stuff that they didn’t mean to buy”(Johnston, 2010).

  1. Keep things simple

At the end of the day and as cliche as it may sound, it is always the thought that counts. You don’t need to buy something that costs a lot and would just end up stored in a hefty cabinet. Give something useful—an item that your friend or giftee can maximize and use daily (if possible). There’s nothing wrong about giving away pens, markers, and cute notebooks if those are things they will surely use (Perdigon, 2010).

So now that you are all equipped, there’s really no reason to whine. You still have a lot of time to beat the rush, just remember to shop wisely.

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