It’s the week before Christmas — time to realize you haven’t finished your Christmas shopping!
Sure, there are 12 smug people who’ve had all their gifts in a closet since June, but the rest of us are scrambling.
I know I’m one of the worst, but I’m certainly not the only person who spends a month thinking of the perfect gift, and 20 minutes frantically searching for it on the 24th. I’ve delivered a vast number of “Your gift is on the way!” cards, and Christmas packages from me tend to arrive mid-January.
I come by it honestly. My family used to send out our Christmas letter in March.
So if you’re like me, and winding up for a frantic sprint through the aisles of your nearest department store, here are five late Christmas shopping tips for the procrastinator.
- Keep wrapping paper on hand at all times. Possibly in your car. You’re inevitably going to forget someone on your list, like your mom, sorry Mom, and spend the early hours of Christmas Eve pillaging the nearest bookstore for something suitable.
An unwrapped gift is a blinking neon sign shouting, “I just bought this! Right now!” Of course, the people on your Christmas list know you. They know you forgot about them. You still need to pretend you didn’t — it’s part of the game, so they can tear off the wrapping and say, “Just what I always wanted! How did you know?” and you can pretend you’re not panting from exhaustion, having just sprinted three-quarters of a mile while frantically trying to flatten down tissue paper with tape.
- Food. If your gift is late, a plate of brownies and a jug of cider can go a long way. If you play your cards right, you may be able to provide a distraction long enough to move the conversation forward. A word, though: this is only a temporary measure. If your hopeful recipients are under 10 years old, this will likely be an effective but short-lived solution. And they had better be good brownies.
- Quality is better than timing. If you think of the perfect gift too late to get it in time for Christmas, order it anyway. “Your gift is on the way!” cards are an admission of guilt, yes, but they’re not as tacky as getting your sister a pack of dollar-store chewing gum and a Happy Meal toy. Bite the bullet and handle the smug looks like the professional procrastinator you are. Remind yourself time is an artificial construct and most holidays are arbitrarily attached to calendar dates. Let me know if it helps.
- Holidays aren’t about the gifts, right? They’re about making sure the people you care about know it. Remind the people around you that selling out to the commercial spirit of the times is leaving a foothold for evil and depravity, or something like that.
This approach is most impactful if you are homeless and adopt stray puppies, sheltering them under your threadbare coat. Also if you’re a monk.
Really though, take a deep breath. If the only way your friends and family know you care is the gifts you do or do not deliver — you’re probably doing it wrong.
- Promise yourself you’ll do better next year.
Just like you did last year.
There’s something to be said for consistency, after all.