Last-minute holiday preparation ideas

There are just five more days until Christmas. If you celebrate the holiday, are you finished with all your planning? Do you still have last-minute things you need to take care of? A few gifts on your list that you haven’t purchased yet? If so, you’re not alone. Many people tend to wait until the Saturday before Christmas to finish up their holiday shopping. Whether you get a thrill from getting it all done on Christmas Eve or you’ve just been a bit busy, here are some last-minute tips to help you get ready for the big day.

Shopping for gifts

Last-minute presents can actually be quite meaningful to the recipient even though they weren’t purchased ahead of time. Experience gifts are great because you can get creative (print your own pet sitting certificate, have someone sing a holiday song for your loved one ) and you don’t necessarily have to wrap them which will save you a bit of time. Other ideas include:

  • Baked goods
  • Digital book or digital magazine subscription
  • Erin’s audiobook Unclutter Your Life in One Week or any audiobook your recipient might enjoy
  • Gift card to a favorite restaurant or place to visit

If you choose to buy a physical gift, you can avoid the stores and shop online. Many online retailers offer a variety of shipping options, but be sure to confirm that they can indeed deliver your order by December 24. And, as usual, stick to your list so you don’t overbuy and clutter your home with unnecessary gifts.

Decorating your home or office

Holiday decor will bring a festive mood to any room. But, when you’re short on time, it probably won’t be possible to decorate your entire home or office, so select a few areas that you can easily add a few decorative items. A handful of candy canes in a glass bowl can be a simple (and yummy) way to bring a little holiday cheer to a space. Your efforts don’t have to be incredibly involved.

Preparing for holiday parties

If you plan on entertaining and hosting your own holiday party, consider asking your guests to bring their favorite dish or beverage. That will save some time on grocery shopping and reduce the time you spend cooking and cleaning up afterward. When you are in the kitchen, it will probably be helpful for you to cook something you’ve had success with making in the past so you don’t try to figure out how to make something new. And, if you’re going to have overnight guests, be sure you have clean towels, bed linens, and toiletries on hand — but now is not the time to redecorate the guest room.

Check out our 2012 Holiday Gift Giving Guide for more ideas, and remember, no matter what you have left to get done, you also need to have fun and enjoy your time with friends and family.

4 Comments for “Last-minute holiday preparation ideas”

  1. posted by Dorothy on

    I cannot ask someone to my home and ASK them to bring something. It’s just counter to my idea of the host/guest dynamic. I don’t see that asking you to bring your own food or drink is as special as asking to to come and be “cared for” in my home.

    Ironically, I moved to South Carolina almost three years ago. Here, people ALWAYS bring “a little something.” I had my annual Christmas lunch for some friends a couple weeks ago. I was a little late in organizing it, so I called guests on the phone rather than sending invitations through the mail. When guests asked — and they ALL asked — what they could bring, and I said, “Just Yourself!” they all seemed a bit puzzled and even a tad hurt in some cases.

    But, really — I want you to come and enjoy yourself. If I can’t afford a big meal, or it’s too much for me to handle, I’ll scale back the affair. Just as I want you to come and relax, I won’t necessarily serve you a 7-course feast complete with finger bowls and a butler!

    I do love the “experiential” gift idea and adopted it for several loved ones this year.

  2. posted by JC on

    @Dorothy, it’s fascinating how different cultures have different social rules. In New Zealand it’s very common to ask guests to bring a contribution to the meal – the phrase “bring a plate” (in the old sexist days it used to be “Ladies a plate”!) is very common on invitations, and means bring a dish of food to share. And I’d never go to someone’s house without offering to bring something for the meal – even if the host said no, I’d probably still bring a bottle or wine or something just to feel like I’m contributing. I suspect South Carolina would feel very much like home to me :-)

  3. posted by purpleBee on

    A friend of mine received a useful ‘last minute’ present one year. It was a collection of things for the day after Christmas – a few teabags, some ground coffee, a roll of antacid tablets, the tv guide for the day, some recipes using left over turkey, some biscuits/cookies, a few aspirins, etc

  4. posted by Smith on

    I know how difficult and hectic last minute shopping can be. It is like there are so many things to do and so less time that you tend to forget something or someone. Long back I had forgotten the gift for my uncle and I still remember the sad look on his face. I was mortified and from that Christmas I always keep extra gift cards with me so that I would never be caught in that kind of awkward situation ever again.

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