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Your Guide to Last-Minute Holiday Shopping

If you think Santa will do all your shopping for you, think again. While more than a quarter of holiday shoppers have completed their purchases, another 18 percent have yet to buy a single gift.

But don’t panic; there’s still time to get your Christmas shopping done. From loading up on gift cards to going on department store shopping sprees, there are ways to make sure all your loved ones have great presents to open on Christmas morning.

Here’s how and where to buy the best last-minute holiday gifts:

Head to a Discount Department Store

Doing your Christmas shopping at a major retailer like Walmart or Target can save you time and money. Given the wide selection at such stores, you’ll be able to find gifts for everyone on your list. And since these stores are almost always less expensive than high-end stores, you’ll face smaller credit card bills in the new year.

Check Out the Mall

The mall is generally a step up in prices compared with budget-friendly department stores, but it too offers a wide array of gift choices. You can visit several stores and stock up on gifts in one trip. You’ll also be able to visit specialized stores to appease your pickier relatives like teenaged daughters.

Fall Back on Gift Cards

Gift cards are always a good option to fall back on. With gift card purchases on the rise, more people are accepting them as accommodating and versatile rather than impersonal gifts. They’re good for givers and recipients alike: you’re saved the anguish of trying to find the perfect gift; cards adapt to fit your price range; and the recipient can buy something he or she will truly enjoy.

Buy a gift card to the recipient’s favorite store or restaurant, or buy a prepaid debit card. Visa gift cards, for example, are accepted at any store that takes Visa.

Who’s Still Shopping?

As of Wednesday, three-fourths of Americans hadn’t completed their shopping yet, saying they still had an average of $300 to spend by Christmas.

Men are notably more likely to be among those procrastinating: 21 percent of men had yet to start their holiday shopping, compared with 16 percent of women. Last-minute gift budgets reflected this discrepancy, as men planned to spend an average of $400 between Wednesday and Christmas, while women reported they had $220 left to spend.

As you finish up your holiday shopping – or just start it – keep in mind you don’t need to have an unlimited budget. One expert suggests you spend no more than 1.5 percent of your annual income on holiday expenses. Even with the time crunch, you can still choose meaningful gifts without going broke.

Katherine Pilnick is a writer for She educates readers about their various personal finance options. She is a graduate of New York University.

Last-minute Christmas shopping

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