The Perils of Last Minute Gifting

More and more Americans are waiting until the last minute to buy their holiday gifts. Fast shipping from online stores and brick-and-mortar stores keeping late hours have given us the sense that we can put things off until there’s no time left. If you’re taking part in this crazy ritual, have fun. Just be sure that you don’t make embarrassing, or costly, mistakes.

For one thing, there is the question of regifting. Is it a great way to recycle, or a tacky way to insult your friends? Allison Martin of MoneyTalksNews (CBS) is a fan of the practice, but cautions in a recent article that you should be sure you remember who gave you the gift before passing it on.

After all, you may be giving the gift right back to the person who gave it to you in the first place. That would be an epic regifting fail.

On the other side of the regifting debate is Geoff Williams, of US News and World Report. In his recent article, “6 Rookie Mistakes Last-Minute Shoppers Often Make,” Geoff warns that regifting is risky business.

He cites a survey by online Secret Santa gift generator, in which one-third of respondents said they had spotted a regift right away, and hadn’t been shy about pointing it out to the giver.


If there’s a bottom line to the whole regifting thing, it’s that you have to be careful. This isn’t easy when the reason why you’re regifting is that you’re in a panic, having forgotten about someone on your list.

Which brings us to some advice that both Martin and Williams agree on, in different ways: you shouldn’t take on too much. Martin suggests that you pare down your shopping list, and include only the people you really want to give a gift to this year. Keeping things simple makes the job of shopping smaller, and gives you time to make the best choices.

Williams’ “rookie mistakes” include “overcompensating for lost time” and overspending. Indeed, the panicked last-minute shopper can easily fall victim to the urge to splurge. Budgets – and common sense – get thrown out the window when we’ve convinced ourselves that we need to ACT NOW. With all the frenzy in stores, and all the online offers, it’s easy to get caught up in the hoopla.

But this leads to the hangover of too-large post-holiday credit card balances. Williams advises that you set a budget, and stick to it, no matter what.

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