Don’t rack your brain
Can’t figure out what to buy? Don’t be afraid to look for clues and ask for ideas. First, see whether the folks on your to-buy-for list have already dropped some virtual hints, in the form of a wish list on amazon.com or gifthero.com, or a Pinterest board of coveted items. If you strike out, encourage your lucky recipients to go on a virtual shopping spree, posting items they wish someone would buy for them.
You can also find inspiration in the many online gift guides. They are typically organized by recipient, interest, and/or price range: Gifts for Dads, Gifts for Golfers ... You get the idea. Good ones include Target’s gift finder (search online for “Target + gift finder,” then choose For Him, For Kids, etc.), uncommongoods.com (click on Gifts, then select your recipient or price range, or browse by interest), and gifthero.com (click on Explore, then type in whom you’re buying for, such as “Mom” or “cook,” or browse the many idea boards to see gift items from various retailers). These savvy tips will help you save money on holiday shopping this year.
Get someone else to do your shopping
Have gifts delivered
For local stores that don’t offer this convenience, try the Postmates delivery service. First, go to postmates.com or download the free app and see whether it’s available in your area. Then type the name of a store into the search bar, click on the store, and enter the item you want. You can even add a photo. You’ll pay for the item, plus a delivery fee of $3.99 to $5.99. Best bet: $9.99 for a monthly unlimited subscription and free delivery on orders over $20—a no‑brainer if you have a long shopping list.
Need help with assembly? You can post an ad at taskrabbit.com describing what you need, then weigh the bids that come in. Fees vary by job, helper, and location, but the company says the average is about $35 an hour. Need help on finding a gift? This is the ultimate gift for every zodiac sign.
Never wrap again
Also, keep your eyes open for gift-wrapping tables in the mall at holiday time. They’re usually staffed by volunteers from local charities, and with a small donation to a good cause, you can have all your wrapping done for you.
Here are some brilliant uses for leftover wrapping paper.
Make Black Friday optional
If you’d rather skip the mayhem, know that sales will be going on in the weeks leading up to Christmas. A good day to target this year is December 15, Free Shipping Day, when many online merchants promise Christmas Eve delivery without rush fees. Also, watch for deals on exercise equipment (December 10), tools (December 13), toys (December 16), and jewelry (December 4 to 25), according to predictions from shopping expert Kyle James of ratherbeshopping.com. To keep an eye on sales as they are announced, watch bestblackfriday.com, theblackfriday.com, and blackfriday.com. Try out these family bonding ideas you can do instead of Black Friday shopping.