This article, entitled "Last Call for Christmas Shopping – Follow These Final Preparation Tips!" comes from partner site SavingsAngel.com.
To help you get through the home stretch, I’ve compiled the following tips based upon my years of experience helping shoppers save.
Remember the stores will be closed
First and foremost, don’t forget that Christmas is the one day of the year when virtually all businesses are closed. I’m sure you know this, but we can sometimes lose sight of the fact in the bustle of the days leading up to Christmas.
Make a list of everything you need on Christmas day, such as food for all three meals plus snacks and drinks. Don’t forget batteries for toys, any pots and pans you need for special recipes and clothing incidentals like nylons.
Beware of dwindling stock at stores
Once you have your list, don’t wait until Christmas Eve to head to the store. Years ago, it wasn’t unusual to find a full supply of Christmas gear available for sale even up to New Year’s Day. However, I have noticed in recent years stores have stopped restocking their seasonal items earlier and earlier.
To avoid empty shelves when you go shopping, try to hit the stores this week rather than waiting until next Monday or Tuesday.
Be ready for impromptu get-togethers
While you are shopping for what you need, consider picking up some extra food for those times when someone stops by unexpectedly. Having some cheese and fancy crackers on-hand (the kind that can be quickly arranged on a plate) is a simple way to make impromptu visitors feel welcome.
Stock up for later
December is a great month for sales on items such as ham, boxed potatoes and side dishes, baking ingredients and canned soups. When you see a great deal, pick up a couple extras to fill your pantry for future meals.
Don’t overlook the grocer for last minute gifts
You are probably already heading to the grocery store so you might as well shave a couple gifts off your list at the same time and it may help you avoid the crowds. Many grocers have premade gift baskets that, while not the cheapest gift, can be very convenient if you are strapped for time. If you know someone who is an adventurous eater, you could raid the ethnic aisle for an assortment of unusual goodies. And of course, many grocery stores now stock gift cards for restaurants, retail stores and more.
Avoid the crowds if you can
The best way to avoid the crowds is to wait until the holiday rush is done. Some of our SavingsAngel.com members have stockpiles big enough that they can ride out December and wait until after Christmas before heading to the store. As a bonus, when they get there, the after-Christmas clearance sales are on!
However, if you need to shop before then, conventional wisdom says Wednesday is the least busy day. My advice is to not focus on the day but rather the time. Head to the store as soon as the kids get on the bus in the morning or shop after bedtime for minimal crowds.
Don’t miss out on using your coupons
With all the great grocery deals to be found in December, don’t forget to maximize your savings by matching your coupons to the weekly sales. You can find complete match-ups at SavingsAngel.com or do it yourself by comparing your coupon inserts to the weekly sales flyer.
At the same time, watch expiration dates. We are coming up on the end of the year and some high value coupons will be expiring soon. Don’t miss your chance to take advantage of them.