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What do consumers do with lousy holiday gifts?
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Not ready yet? Check out these tips for last-minute holiday shoppers

By Andrea Woroch, Consumer Writer,

Guest Blogger

With just a few days remaining until the holidays, shoppers with gifts left on their list feel the pressure to spend. But even if you've waited until the eleventh hour to pick up those last few presents, you don't have to buy the first thing you see or pay an absurd amount of money.

Christmas PresentsCheck out these shopping tips to stay within budget even when the clock is ticking:

1. Re-gift

It's a dirty secret, but lots of people just put a new bow on an old gift. In fact, says 23 percent of U.S. residents re-gift. The most popular repeats are wine, candles, and, of course, the perennial fruitcake. For some useful re-gifting do's and don'ts, check out this recent article from ABC News.

2. Free expedited shipping

Some retailers will offer free rush shipping in the last few days leading up to the holidays, so check for codes before paying expensive overnight delivery charges. While you're there, check out their list of shipping deadlines to find out which retailers can send gifts in time for the holidays.

3. Ship-to-store offers

For those who want to avoid long check-out lines of crazed shoppers or the shame of offering your gift post-holiday, quite a few retailers – including Sears and REI – offer free delivery to their brick-and-mortar stores. Usually, you'll receive an e-mail notification when your purchase is ready for pick up. Best Buy even boasts some items can be picked up in under an hour.

4. A picture is worth a thousand words

Another way to avoid rush charges is to purchase a present online and print out a picture, which you then wrap up for under the tree. After all, it's the thought that counts and your recipient doesn't have to worry about lugging the gift around town.

5. Magazine subscriptions

There's a magazine for every interest, even for rodent fanciers; there's a magazine called "Rat & Mouse." You can find a monthly publication desired by that hard-to-buy-for loved one. Websites like and offer cut-rate deals, and the recipient will never know you paid such a great price.

6. Gift cards

Gift cards are sold at almost any type of retailer including drugstores, supermarkets, and some gas stations. Since most of these will be open late on Christmas Eve and some on Christmas Day, you can pick one up on your way to the holiday celebration. Otherwise, e-gift cards are life savers in a pinch. Send one via email directly to the recipient's inbox or print it from your home computer.

7. Beat the masses

If in-store shopping is your only option, then don't let the stress of other shoppers get to you. Head to the stores at odd hours to enjoy smaller crowds and take advantage of last-minute sales. Select locations of stores such as Toys R Us will be open 24/7 and others like Macy's will stay open until 2 a.m. Through Dec. 23, Kohl’s will be open from 6 a.m. to midnight and Best Buy will welcome customers from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Copyright 2011, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist


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heddi cundle

Love this article! I had family gift me travel cash on and i'm now using it towards a flight to NYC in January. Easiest holiday gift giving and receiving ever!

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