Home > Personal Finance > Your Guide to Last-Minute Gifting

Comments 0 Comments

The holidays are a handful of days away, and you still have shopping to do. Our advice? Take a deep breath and don’t stress. You can get it all done as long as you keep a few things in mind.

Create a List

We know you like to shop online, but some gifts need to be seen in person. Stores can be crowded and hectic, so it’s important to stay focused and calm. The best way to stay on track is with a list—an actual list—with names, gift ideas, and the estimated budget per recipient. Using an app like Evernote or the memo function on your phone will ensure your list is with you at all times.

Also, remember to include your own shopping needs on your list. Setting a limit for what you can buy for yourself will hopefully prevent you from overindulging during the holidays.

Beware of the Maddening Crowd

Rather than hitting the stores during popular shopping times, take advantage of extended holiday hours when stores will be less crowded. If you have a lot of shopping left to do and can spare a personal day, take one. Unless you live in a tourist city, stores won’t be as crowded during the workday—letting you can shop in peace.

Don’t Forget about Shipping Times and Fees

Many of us turn to online shopping for its convenience, but as you place your orders, be mindful of shipping times and fees. Most websites have both prominently displayed. But in the past, UPS and Walmart have hit snags with delivering Cyber Week orders on time, so it’s better to order sooner rather than later so you’re not taking any chances. 

Make Smart Choices

Whether you are shopping online or in stores, there are bound to be discounts. If those discounts apply to items on your list, go for it. However, a discount does not mean you should buy things you don’t need right now. Remember, you are still spending money, even if the item is 30% off.

Out of Ideas or Out of Time?

If you are really down to the wire and still have gifts to buy, you have options.

Gift Cards

Rather than taking a risk with a gift you’re not sure about, give a gift card. Digital gift cards can be purchased online in minutes, and a large variety of physical gift cards can be easily found at the checkout of your local grocery store or drugstore. Gift cards for retailers that have a vast selection of items are the safest bet. According to a recent survey by gift card site Gift Card Granny, consumers often buy gift cards for Amazon, Walmart, and Target.

Experiential Gifts

Memberships or passes to a favorite local destination, like a museum, play space, or zoo, is a unique and useful gift. They give the recipient a good reason to go to their favorite local place as often as they want during the year.

DIY Gifts

If you like to bake, whip up a batch of your famous cookies or banana bread, and wrap up the goods in wax paper with a ribbon. In just a couple hours, you could put your shopping list to bed.


Pick up something nice at the liquor store. Most liquor stores carry festive holiday beverages with decent gift bags that you can purchase in a pinch.

Personal Mementos

For something more personal, CVS Photo offers photo prints, cards, and books that can be done in as little as an hour. Walmart Photo offers a similar service where you can choose from card designs and various prints—including collage prints and mounted prints.

If you still have some last-minute shopping to do, use the tips above. Keep the growing crowds and online shipping times and fees at the forefront of your mind, and remember to shop smart where you can. And if you’d like to get a little cash back this season, consider getting a rewards card that suits your needs.

Image: istock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team