Simplifying The Holidays: Last Minute Holiday Shopping Tips

deshawn-marie-soaps.jpgMy respect, admiration, and affection for Liz Gumbinner and Kristen Chase of Cool Mom Picks is multidimensional. I met them for the first time in real life at BlogHer Chicago in July, but I have “e-known” them since the early CMP days, followed their hilarious personal blogs (Mom-101 and Motherhood Uncensored, respectively), and interfaced with Kristen through Parent Bloggers Network and also via Kristen motivating me to become one of the original wave of Shredheads. Liz and Kristen are such talented, generous, and funny women, and for the thirteenth installment of my Simplifying the Holidays guest blog series, I’m thrilled to share their savvy shopping tips to help you survive the last minute holiday shopping crunch.

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From Liz & Kristen:

So it’s officially the holiday rush. And by that, we mean even if you think you’ve crossed every person off your gift list, there’s still someone you’ve forgotten -- a hostess, a caregiver, your daughter’s ballet teacher, the kid who walks your dogs.

We’ve spent a lot of time this year trying to find more frugal options for our readers, from great holiday gifts under $20 in our holiday gift guide, to free (but fabulous) e-cards, to décor that you can reuse year after year.

But the truth is, for parents -- especially those of us who work outside the home too -- at times it can be worth it to pay a little extra to help get some of the many things off your overflowing plate and simplify your life. Here are three tips for surviving the last minute holiday crunch:

1. Shop online!

This is, by far, the number one hassle-avoider now or any old time of the year. You can comparison shop and search out discount codes on the spot (we often post them on our site), and best of all, you never have to wrangle the kids in and out of the car seat. Even if you pay for shipping, it often ends up being less than what you might spend in gas, parking, and cheese fries at the food court so keep it in perspective.

Little indulgence: Have the gifts wrapped and sent right to the recipient.

2. Get the return address labels

It is sooooo worth the few dollars extra to get preprinted address labels with your holiday cards. We particularly like the ones from Minted and Paper Culture. Even Shutterfly will print them right on the envelopes for you and their prices are great.

Little indulgence: Red Stamp has an address and send service, so if you’re Just That Busy, you don’t even have to sign your cards yourself.

3. Buy local

Skip the malls and keep your blood pressure at a reasonable level by hitting a local craft marketplace instead and supporting a small business. Or if you head over to Etsy, you can search by location and find a fantastic local crafter who might be able to get it to you quickly, or maybe even drop the holiday gift of your dreams right to your door. You can find everything from décor to hostess gifts to handmade toys for the kids.

Little indulgence: Accessory shopping! Instead of buying a whole new holiday outfit, grab a hot new red scarf or a funky headband to spruce up that little black dress. Suddenly everything old is new again.

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Liz Gumbinner and Kristen Chase are the publishers of Cool Mom Picks, the influential shopping and design blog called "the online arbiter of cool for the swingset crowd" by Parents, and named one of Real Simple's favorite three blogs for parents. You can find them on Twitter at @coolmompicks where they'll be tweeting tons of last minute deals and gift ideas. Liz is also the author of Mom-101 and Kristen is the voice behind the always provocative Motherhood Uncensored. They tweet at @Mom101 and @mublogger, respectively.

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Image credit: Vegan handmade soaps by Boston-based DeShawn Marie Handmade Soaps (via Etsy).