9 Smart Reasons to Last-Minute Holiday Shop

Full disclosure here, folks: I'm a planner. Most years, I start my holiday shopping in October and have everything wrapped Martha Stewart-style by Thanksgiving. But the older I get, and the more holidays I put behind me, the more tempted I am to cross over to the other side.

For just one year, I'd like to make October and November strictly about enjoying the changing leaves, spooking trick-or-treaters, and consuming an embarrassing amount of turkey. Why? Because procrastinating offers some strategic advantages, especially during the holidays. Here are nine reasons why it's perfectly okay to shop for the holidays at the very last minute.

1. More Seasonal Spirit

Compared to those of us who start our holiday shopping in the heat of August, last-minute buyers are far more immersed in the spirit of the season. The air is crisp, stores are decked out in full holiday cheer, carolers are caroling, and everything feels more festive. If you have trouble gearing up for the holiday, a last-minute shopping trip could be the nudge you need.

2. Deeper Discounts

Who needs Black Friday? Retailers live and die by their holiday sales volume. The closer the holiday, the more anxious they are to hit their sales goals, clear out inventory, and prepare for the next big sales season. Last-minute shoppers can take advantage of this reality and score some amazing deals. (See also: December Deals That Are Better Than Black Friday)

3. Amazing Online Deals

Sometimes the best last-minute deals are just a click away. Online retailers promote doorbuster discounts at different times throughout the holiday season. And if you don't mind being late with a gift or two, standard shipping is often free for buyers who meet minimum purchase requirements.

4. More Planning Time

Choosing to delay your holiday shopping doesn't have to mean you're operating in complete chaos. Procrastination gives you more time to plan and more time to see what other gifts have already been exchanged — two distinct advantages if you want find just the perfect item and avoid giving a duplicate gift.

5. Smaller Crowds

As the holidays draw near, most people focus less on shopping and more on decorating their homes, cooking, preparing for visitors, or traveling. That means malls and other retail outlets can be almost serene for eleventh-hour shoppers.

6. No Spoiled Surprises

No matter how expert your skills of concealment, kids have an uncanny ability to sniff out their gifts. But last-minute shoppers have nothing to worry about. They only need to hide their gifts for a few days — heck, sometimes just a few short hours! That means half-pint hunters have less time to explore and less chance of spoiling their surprise on Christmas morning.

7. Fewer Wish List Changes

Some children's holiday wish lists could generously be described as "fluid." New products, changing tastes, and evolving interests all mean that what you bought in early November could be passé by late December. Here, last-minute shoppers have a distinct advantage: They can dash out the door on December 23rd with relative certainty that they have the latest and greatest wish list in-hand.

8. More Time to Save

In theory, the longer you wait to shop, the more time you'll have to prep your finances for the holidays and sock away some green. Last-minute shoppers who've been disciplined budgeters can pay cash for every item on their holiday list — that means not having to rely on credit cards and avoiding interest charges. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving!

9. Bigger Challenge

Are you one of those amazing people who work best under pressure? Then December 22–24 is your time to shine. Slam a double espresso, hit the malls, check out your favorite neighborhood shops, and start wrapping. You got this.

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