Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla: All right, Christmas is about a minute away and you're not done with your shopping. Here are some ideas for last-minute purchases that will keep you out of the malls and super-crowded discount stores.
- Drugstores like CVS and Walgreens carry a good selection of toys and gift cards to other stores, but you can get creative. Pick up a gift bag there and toss in some items for a "Spa Party" -- nail polish, cotton balls, toe separators, manicure and pedicure implements, maybe even some flip-flops. Or make a gift bag for a movie night: They sell candy, popcorn and DVDs!
- Your local grocery store is a good bet also. Pick up some pet toys and treats for an animal lover, or fancy olive oils and spreads for a foodie.
- If you're a AAA member, stop by their office for movie tickets and travel books, or buy someone a gift membership.
- Office stores have a great selection of electronics, as well as backpacks and fun stationery supplies.
- Lots of online retailers are upgrading to overnight or two-day shipping. If you are an Amazon Prime member (which is free to moms/dads/caregivers for three months), take advantage of their free two-day shipping and upgrades to overnight shipping for only $3.99 per item.
- If you're really down to the wire, go to GiftCertificates.com and e-mail a "super certificate" (recipient can choose the merchant) or e-certificate from a specific retailer.
- A little ingenuity goes a long way. One of my favorite presents for my last birthday was a card from a friend in my book club promising to buy the next three book club picks for me.
- The best presents often involve the gift of time, so keep that in mind -- maybe a gift card to a restaurant, along with an offer to babysit the night your friend redeems the card.