Stephanie Nelson | 

The Procrastinator's Guide to Last-Minute Holiday Shopping

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Forget to get a gift for your Great Aunt Edna? You need the procrastinator’s guide to last-minute holiday shopping!

While most of the best sales have come and gone by now, it doesn’t mean you have to get gouged. You still have options to save money and find some deals. Here’s everything you need to get this job done and come out smelling like a rose.

(Psst! Before you get started, be sure to check out the KCL Black Friday Deals page, which keeps getting updated until after the holidays!)


1. Shop at Target the week before Christmas.

Xbox1 Minecraft Bundle Target 2018

In 2019, Target crossed the holiday finish line strong with Black Friday repeat deals on gaming bundles like:

  • $100 off the Xbox One S Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order bundle (reg. price $299)
  • 50% off games and puzzles
  • $60 off the Nintendo Switch Mario Kart 8 Deluxe bundle (reg. price $359.98)

Look for specific Circle offers inside the Target app the week before Christmas, and then keep your eyes peeled for last-minute sales. Use the website or app to confirm the item you want is in stock at your local Target, purchase online or in app, and select in-store pickup.


2. Sign loved ones up for subscription boxes as gifts.

This is your one opportunity to say “your gift is in the mail” and not look like you shopped last minute…even though you did. But seriously, who is going to complain about gifts coming to their house all year round? Fabletics is our pick for activewear that’s so freaking cute and stylish you can wear it anywhere.

RELATED: Subscriptions to Give as Last-Minute Gifts That Don’t Suck


3. Use Wikibuy for last-minute online shopping to source the deals.

If you’re gonna shop last minute online, better make sure you do it right. Get the Wikibuy free browser extension or free Wikibuy app to price compare across thousands of online stores, including Amazon.

Here’s how it works: If you’re shopping online (for example at Amazon), for any item you view, Wikibuy will compare prices (including shipping and tax) across thousands of sites. If it finds a better deal, you’ll get a notification popup. Once you put an item in your cart, it will search any available coupon codes online and put any available code for the greatest discount in the promo/coupon code line in your cart.

Wikibuy compensates us when you get the Wikibuy extension using the links provided.


4. Use the Amazon app to price match like crazy in December.

The Amazon app is your ally against paying out the nose for last-minute gifts.

Scan items with the app when you’re shopping at a retailer that price matches with competitors to get access to Amazon pricing. If you see a lower price, ask for that low price at customer service where you’re shopping.



5. Buy stocking stuffers at the dollar store.

The dollar store can be a thrifty family’s dream when it comes to filling stockings — especially a procrastinating thrifty family!

Just walk in and load up on toys, stickers, kitchen gadgets or whatever else your family would get a kick out of.

RELATED: Things You Should Always Buy at Dollar Tree



6. Send a gift through Giftly and the recipient picks what they want.

This one is a step above a gift card, but a little less specific than GiftNow. To use Giftly, suggest a general item like “spa day,” “scarf,” “electronics” and more to your person. Then select a place for them to use the gift, or leave it general like “any theater” for a movie ticket gift. The recipient chooses how to receive the funds.

Meaning — the “gift” comes as money into the recipient’s bank account or PayPal account. They can spend it however they want with the option to inform the giver about what they bought.

So basically, it’s a gift card that’s actually money but seems like a personalized gift. What’s not to love?


7. Shop at Kohl’s to earn Kohl’s Cash on Christmas Eve.

Shopping on Christmas Eve is only for the bravest of procrastinators. For a few years now, Kohl’s has offered Kohl’s Cash with purchases on Christmas Eve. You can earn $10 for every $50 spent, proving that sometimes it does pay to procrastinate.

Don’t want to battle the crowds? Hit up Kohl’s online and use Kohl’s same-day store pickup for Christmas Eve. Kohl’s lets you park in a designated in-store pickup parking space (no fighting for a spot) and you check out at a special register (no long lines).

And, since you’re earning Kohl’s Cash you can spend later, it’s just like getting a sale price. Right?!


8. Take advantage of Walmart’s free Christmas Eve in-store pickup.

If you place your online order, you can pick it up on Christmas Eve at Walmart, depending on the item. Look for items online that have “Same Day Pickup” as a selection option. (Be sure to have the right location selected as your store! For some reason my laptop thinks I’m in Wisconsin.)

If you order in the Walmart app, you can check in and see exactly when your item is available to be picked up.

This gives you the flexibility to shop from home (and possibly hide from your family the fact that you haven’t bought gifts yet, or, if you buy a large item, it gives you a place to hide any Santa gifts, as Walmart holds items up to seven days).

Plus, you won’t pay for shipping. Win!



9. Give a free housecleaning session to your aunt (or brother or literally anyone with a house).

Because who wouldn’t be jumping for joy on the inside to see that for just one freaking time in life, they don’t have to clean their own house?

Contact local housecleaning companies to find out about a gift card for one session or a whole dang month if you’re really feeling like you need to be Santa to your humans.


10. Get last-minute gift ideas and email gifts through GiftNow.

Want something as instant as an e-gift card but more personal? Shop online for a loved one at Target, Kate Spade, Coach or any other GiftNow partner stores; tap the “Gift Now” button; enter the gift recipient’s email address and a personal message; pay; and boom! Or, use the great last-minute gift ideas on the site and send from there. You’re done.

When the recipient opens their email, they’ll see a pretty box. One click opens the box. Then they view what you’ve thoughtfully picked out and bought for them (even if it was last minute.) They get to choose the size and color they like or exchange the gift for something totally different, and it gets shipped directly to them.


11. Give memberships to Amazon Prime, wine clubs and more as gifts.

Have a family member who’s not convinced Prime is worth it? (Or maybe they’re freeloading off your Prime without returning the favor by paying for your Netflix…)

Buy them a year’s worth of Prime for $119, and watch them get addicted. Muahaha.

Or pay for a few months’ worth of a wine subscription like Winc — you’ll get four wines for $27 the first month. (Try any of these awesome wine deal memberships!)

Ditto subscription boxes — just be sure to cancel when you’re done to avoid an automatic charge to your account.


12. Shop online on Dec. 14 — it’s Free Shipping Day.

It’s the one day of the year when you can count on free shipping from tons of retailers like Kohl’s, Walmart and Best Buy.

Your package will arrive in time for Christmas, and you won’t have to leave your couch to do your shopping.



13. Select same-day shipping for your Amazon order on Christmas Eve.

Amazon offers same-day shipping on Christmas Eve, and last year they offered free same-day shipping on Christmas Eve for Amazon Prime members living in cities with Prime Now.


14. Give gifts from your re-gifting stockpile.


OK, so it might be a little too late this year to do this. But think about it for next year if you suspect you’ll be last-minute shopping again (which, let’s be honest — you will be).

Start a re-gifting stockpile by setting aside items that are brand new and really nice, but you simply have no use for. Do not — I repeat do not — re-gift a used item.

Unless you want to be that person.


15. Dodge the boring store gift card option by giving a class instead.

Personally, I don’t mind getting gift cards for Christmas. But they do have kind of a reputation for being a “thoughtless” gift (random aside: is it just me or is this a serious real first-world problem??).

Spice it up by buying classes on pottery, cooking, gardening, welding — your options here are as vast as your imagination.

This gift works especially well if you are buying for someone who has been saying for years they want to learn how to _____ (fill in the blank).


16. Shop stores open on Christmas Day.

I get that shopping on Christmas Day isn’t ideal and will probably make someone in your family upset.

That said, unless you’re shopping in the evening on Christmas Day (because there’s procrastination and then there are really bad life choices), here’s where to shop. Just call ahead to find out hours for your local stores.

  • CVS
  • Rite Aid
  • Walgreens
  • Family Dollar
  • Starbucks
  • 7-Eleven
  • Circle K
  • Casey’s
  • Speedway


17. Hit up Trader Joe’s for a $3.99 succulent to give to your fringe people.

We all have them — the people you adore but they’re not family or close friends. These are teachers, school staff that goes above and beyond, neighbors, etc.

People you want to give something to, but you don’t want to spend too much time shopping. Everyone loves a succulent. Trader Joe’s succulents are very reasonably priced and always come with a cute holiday-themed pot.

Merry Christmas!


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