If you're still struggling with gift ideas, it's possible you don't need to look further than your corner store. The local drugstore or office supply center yields a surprising bounty and in some cases offers on-site shipping.
Nancy Soriano, lifestyle expert and co-founder of the Creative Connection (and Office Depot's smart-giving expert) offers WalletPop readers some great ideas for last-minute gifts, particularly suited to those a little further down the gift list like neighbors, co-workers and extended family.Making a list is always important, but more so as time runs short. Make sure you're not running all over town, or mindlessly backtracking through a store. Note the recipients' likes (and dislikes) and have more than one option written down, just in case.
Try to do as much as possible in a single store. Drugstores like CVS and Walgreens are great for gift basket goods. Get a few affordable "spa" items -- like hair masks, barrettes and headbands; nail buffers, polish and accessories; lipstick and glosses -- grab a basket and packing supplies and you're good to go.
Grocery stores too, can yield unexpected gift ideas, Soriano says, from baking baskets to cookie supplies, since there's still time to make them yourself. "Or make cookie dough, wrap it in wax paper and freeze it. You can always make your own label and give it as a gift," says Soriano. "And more and more grocery stores carry natural or organic products, so if somebody has a food allergy, you can make them fun things they can actually eat."
Office supply stores are great if you're planning to ship gifts. Staples and Office Depot have in-store shipping centers and all the goods to pack things up properly, from boxes to packing peanuts. Most carry the same popular small electronics as larger stores at competitive prices, like digital cameras, USB drives, photo paper and mobile phone accessories. Take the most recent ads from Best Buy, Target or Wilmar with you, or use one of the many shopping apps to comparison shop on site, as stores are likely to price match an advertised sale price at another store.
Bring holiday cards to the store, or buy them there and don't forget a pen and necessary addresses. Check for the closest post office, UPS store or FedEx location -- often in unexpectedly convenient locations like back lobbies or office complexes -- to eliminate extra trips.
And of course, all these stores sell gift cards from a variety of different retailers or brands. To avoid gift card scams, give preference to gift cards stocked behind the cash register, have the cashier scan the card to make sure the right value is loaded and always keep the receipts. For everything.
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