Best Holiday Shopping Practices for Dodging Delivery Delays

woman's hand holding a holiday shopping bag filled with wrapped giftsEvery year as the holidays approach I tell myself that I’m going to shop early, not over do it by buying too much and have everything wrapped as soon as possible. The goal is to  enjoy more family time. This rarely happens and I end up running hard to make it across the finish line just in time for Christmas Day.  This year, in light of the shipping delays and low stock on merchandise, I think we are all feeling a bit more pressure for expediency. The clock is ticking and here are some of my thoughts on best practices for this holiday shopping season to make sure you get the perfect gift for your loved ones.

Start Holiday Shopping Now!

Don’t wait for Black Friday or that special holiday shopping trip you take every year with your BFF, right after Thanksgiving. To ensure that every gift arrives in enough time for Christmas, the time to act is now.  By all means, still do the fun stuff, but for those gifts that are most important to you – especially if it is one of the seasons hottest gifts – secure those items as soon as possible. Retailers are saying that items that sell out are most likely not going to be restocked in time for Christmas Day. 

Black Friday/Cyber Monday

If you’re one of those shoppers who gets a thrill out of heading out after your Thanksgiving feast to score some great deals, Black Friday Style, availability may make this complicated. Same goes for Cyber Monday, November 29th. Retailers can not guarantee how much stock they will have on hand. However, there is good news, as some retailers have already started their Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Walmart, Target and Amazon are just a few that are offering weekly deals leading into the holidays. Check their websites for promotions. 

Place Orders ASAP!

Get those fast fingers ready because standard shipping times are very early. If you are looking for the quickest and least expensive shipping method, shopping early is the way to go. FedEx is showing December 9th as the last day to ship Economy, with December 15th being the last day to ship FedEx Ground. UPS is giving quotes on their website for specific destinations, while the United States Postal Service is giving December 17th as the deadline for First-class mail service. Obviously, all of these service providers and individual retailers have ways to expedite shipping, but you are going to pay a much higher price. Bottom line? Get ‘er done!

Shop Local

I love giving unique, limited edition or hand made items as gifts. If one of my girls lists earrings on her Christmas Wish List, I like to find a local jeweler with fresh, original designs to purchase something special. My first stop this year? Houston Ballet’s Nutcracker Market. There is no better place to find a collection of small businesses that offer such a variety of gift selections. Plus, it is a great way to spend the day with friends {did someone say mimosas?!} Local bookstores, clothing boutiques, gourmet food shops and, yes, jewelers are well worth the effort to go out and about looking for the perfect gift. Bonus – it adds to the Christmas shopping fun. 

Gift Cards

This may be the one time that giving a gift card makes more sense than anything else. They are the perfect size and can be used when the time is right, or, at least when the item is back in stock. Let me tell you a not so well kept secret: Every year my sister gifts me a selection of gift cards for Christmas. There’s always a Starbucks gift card {to feed my coffee addiction}, a DSW Shoe Warehouse gift card {to feed my shoe addiction}, and a HomeGoods gift card {because, HomeGoods}. The last gift card is a surprise depending on what I am into and has ranged from Nordstrom, to Williams-Sonoma to Sephora. I. LOVE. IT.  Seriously, I look forward to that envelope every year! A gift card is never the wrong color or the wrong size.

The bottom line is that, this year, probably more than any other, we really have to get our act together and stay focused when holiday shopping. With the right plan of action- buy early, shop local and give gift cards- we can still have all of our gift giving needs met. I guess if all else fails, we can always book a party cruise out to one of those floating barges full of stranded merchandise and call it a mall trip.  


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