How to stay ahead of your holiday gift shopping

Hallie Lauer | Features Editor


December isn’t the only thing quickly approaching; get ready to be hit with that sinking feeling of not knowing what gifts to get your family and friends. Before you know it, it will be Dec. 23 and you’re scrambling to buy something (or maybe that’s just me, who knows). For my own benefit, and the benefit of our readers, I have compiled some steps to help you beat the holiday procrastination, along with some great places to buy inexpensive gifts.

1.Figure out what is lacking in your loved ones’ lives
Thanksgiving was the perfect opportunity to talk to your family to see what was missing from their lives. Maybe they recently dropped and shattered their favorite mug, or shrunk a sweater in the dryer. Small tips like this are great gift ideas. If you missed this opportunity, have no fear – it’s still early. Reach out to friends and grab a cup of coffee “to catch up,” when really you’ll be scouring the conversation for good gift ideas. The key is to get them something they actually need or want, so the more time you spending talking to them, the more likely you are to get some pretty decent ideas.

2. Improvise
Let’s say for whatever reason, this person doesn’t need anything and they also happen to be a cryptic enigma preventing you from finding out what they want. In that case, you improvise. There are some things that you just can’t go wrong with: candles or food. Almost everyone loves a good candle, and hey, everyone eats, so you might as well throw together a fun themed basket full of things to have an Italian night, or a seafood night. Something to inspire the palate.

3. Actually do the thing
After coming up with the actual idea, the next hardest (and only other) part is actually purchasing/making the gift. Pro tip, if you can, avoid the weekend to head to the mall. That’s when it’s most likely to be packed with moms and screaming toddlers. The mall is much busier than you think on Dec. 23, so that alone should be enough incentive to get out there and do it early. Amazon Prime has made us all procrastinators, but just because you can buy it three days before Christmas and have it in time doesn’t mean that you should.

With all that in mind, here are some great ideas where you can find rather inexpensive gifts.

Strip District
The Strip is a great place to buy not only Pittsburgh-themed items but also to find things from local craft vendors like jewelry, art and other goods. Almost everything is at a reasonable price, not to mention if the person you are buying the gift for is local, you could get them a gift card to a number of great restaurants or coffee shops in the strip, including my personal favorite, La Prima Espresso Company.
With YouTube, there is nothing you can’t learn to do (expect maybe rocket science … actually there is probably a tutorial for that, too). A do-it-yourself gift is not only cheaper, it is more meaningful to your family or friend. YouTube and Pinterest are full of great ideas for gifts for anyone in your life.
Outlet malls and online shopping are two of the easiest ways to find deals. Outlet malls tend to have more sales than their counterpart stores. Online stores also always have a sale tab, and it is a lot easier to work within your budget online. Plus the possibilities are endless; if you can think it, you can find it on the internet.

Although my family tends to call me “The Great Procrastinator,” I hope that these tips help you (and me) avoid the last minute gift buying for whatever holiday it is that you celebrate. And remember, if you do happen to get caught falling behind, Amazon Prime is discounted for students and they have free two-day shipping.