Really, Really Last Minute Holiday Shopping

by Katy on December 24, 2008 · 10 comments




Portland Oregon has been snowed under for the past week, and my holiday shopping went kaput. I was mostly done with my shopping, but I desperately needed to get more things for my 13-year-old. And because I do The Compact, (buy nothing new) shopping is a self-imposed complication.

So after dinner tonight, I got into the chained-up Subaru Outback and carefully drove through the ice and snow to the main Goodwill. I knew I only had a little more than an hour before the 9:00 P.M. closing time, so I got super focused. 

Must. Not. Disappoint. The. Kids.

I had issued the $100 holiday gift challenge, and have tried to personally keep it under $50, (including a few holiday birthdays) but the onset of un-driveable conditions, paired with no school for the kids last week threw a wrench, (albeit a used one) into the works. I will keep things under $100. $50? Not so much.

I have been part of The Compact since January of 2007, and the current what-the-heck-am-I-getting-my-son-for-the-holidays dilemma is the biggest challenge I’ve faced so far. The ten-year-old still likes games and toys, so I have plenty for him.

The Goodwill was deserted, as few people are as insane as I am, venturing out on an icy evening for used thingama-bobs. I’ve never seen the merchandise so neatly arranged. There were definitely more employees than customers.

I was able to find, all for my 13-year-old:

  • Four novels, plus a copy of Matt Groenig’s classic “School is Hell” book. ($6 total)
  • A cool knit cap with old roadster style flames up the sides. ($1.99)
  • A brand new pair of Perry Ellis pajama bottoms. ($2.99)
  • A really cool short-sleeve, button-up shirt with flames and skulls. ($4.99)
  • A cute stuffed Starbucks brand snowman to peek out of his stocking, ($1.49)
  • A darling small outdoor cast-iron table inset with iridescent green tiles for the patio. ($4.99) Okay — this one was a gift from Katy, to Katy.

I spent a bit more on the shirt than I would have liked to, but there was no wiggle room on time here. My husband takes the only snow-worthy car to work with him, so were are pretty much house bound. Plus, I can’t holiday shop with the kids watching my every move. 

It would have been so easy to give up and buy brand new stuff, but I’m glad that I didn’t. My son will like all of his gifts.

My past history, (pre-Compact) was to be extremely frugal about gift giving, but then spend at least a hundred, (often more) panicky dollars on the 23rd to fill in the gaps. So yes, I did some panicky shopping today, but I only spent $17.50 on these gifts.

Did you do some panicky shopping today or yesterday? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Jan December 24, 2008 at 2:56 am

I’m making my gifts this year & started baby albums for all my siblings, so I have 2 more to start tonight & bring to Christmas dinner tomorrow night. I took the pressure off of myself by only giving the album & the first page completed. Each birthday & Christmas will yield at least 1 more page for each occassion. I love not buying gifts!


Meadowlark December 24, 2008 at 8:53 am

Stay indoors!!! 🙂 I’m a bit envious that you guys have so much more snow than we do… central oregon sort of got cheated in the snow department 🙁 But then again, you guys aren’t really set up for it, so be safe.

Love the snow on this page btw!


Joy December 24, 2008 at 9:01 am

I live in Iowa – I understand the “last minute run to the store” times!!

This year my siblings and parents have agreed to not give gifts to each other. We have everything we need and if we don’t, we can get it ourselves.

I have 4 kids to buy for. My son (22) is getting 3 flannel shirts (which he requested) from DAV – $1.65 each. His girlfriend (22) is getting a beautiful second-hand casserole dish & lid – $7.50 My daughter (19) is getting a sweater & 2 pairs of name-brand jeans from a consignment shop – $6 each. And her boyfriend (20) is getting a CD case – $8.

The stocking stuffers is where I have spent the most money. You can’t buy used chocolate and candy canes!!

Happy Holidays to all!!


Penny in Australia December 25, 2008 at 1:04 am

it’s been a great and almost gift-free Christmas for my family here! There are no kids in our family, so presents for adults seem a bit silly (not to mention wasteful). After enjoying a beautiful BBQ breakfast at my mum’s house I opened the 1 gift she got me, some cute t-shirts for me and my husband. She was given an iPod from a friend so my ‘gift’ to her will be to load her songs onto it, and teach her how to use it.

We’ve come home for a little nap before heading out to the in-laws for dinner. No bought gifts there either, for the first time this year (yay!). We’ve made biscuits that look like plum puddings and a hedgehog slice.

To celebrate our lack of waste (both goods and money), husband and I bought each other a gift last night online – a ‘Smiles’ voucher from the charity World Vision. Seems a more fitting way to spend and celebrate! 🙂 Merry Christmas everyone!


rachel December 25, 2008 at 2:56 am

As pagans my family celebrate the winter solstice rather than xmas so did our thing on sunday. I had to go to the local supermarket on tuesday to make sure I had enough milk over the holidays and I briefly forgot it was xmas coming so the crowds really surprised me. People seemed so miserable and stressed too and Im afraid to say I felt a little smug knowing Id already done the deed and could take things easy!!

I live in England and do a lot of foraging outside in the summer and autumn so lots of presents are jams, jellies and berry liquers I make during the year. Later on I make fudge, chocolate dipped nuts and ginger bread which get decorated and put in little celephane packages for gifts too. I think I probably spend more money on the extra ingredients – sugar, packaging etc though I also save and reuse gift bags and so on.

family get various things brought in thrift shops, off market stalls and through special offers which does mean I might buy new sometimes but hey – Ive only started the non consumer stuff recently, and like the other comment about sweets being bought new, perfume and smellies cant really be second hand (unless they are unwanted gifts from someone else-and ive done that a couple of times too!!!). For example a few months back one stall holder from london was selling several perfumes – good ones, not copies probably cos the packages and labels had the odd tear on them. I got several presents for family members at a fraction of the cost

My youngest daughter is the one I probably spend most on – shes almost 5 and most of her toys were games, books and one or two special presents – mostly from the charity shops or off ebay.

friends had the jars and sweets made previously. A cake or biscuits along with a book or two that I have read and pass on.

Last year I made chocolates, found large cups and saucers in the charity shops which i put special flavoured tea and coffee bags, hot chocolate sachets and marshmallows in. I found a second hand book and put the lot in my reused gift bags. My plan for next year is to knit everyone a scarf – using washed wool from old jumpers im picking up in the charity shops. Or maybe a hot water bottle cover and bed socks.

I find im feeling both virtuous and also having fun.

whatever you celebrate – hope you have a wonderful time.


Wendy December 25, 2008 at 6:38 am

On Tuesday, I “purchased” two more shirts for my oldest son using $17.00 in credit I had earned at my favorite consignment shop. Then last evening, I sent two virtual email gift certificates from Powells, earning 15 % credit for a future purchase. My husband and I hoped to send out more home baked cookies in the cheery tins we have been collecting, but ran out of time. I rationalized the Powell’s gift certificates as costing less than mailing cookies would have been via USPS, so I don’t feel too bad.


Susan December 25, 2008 at 8:05 am

I really try not to spend money but it seems hard especially if I don’t prepare. One of my sons is 18 and he is obsessed with name brands and we really don’t want to buy from the Big Box stores so my husband and I went to Goodwill and found 1 Tommy Hilfiger and 1 Ralph Loren Polo for $3.50 a piece and I don’t think he even knows thats where we got them. I really wish there was a way to teach him that brands don’t matter. Happy Holidays.


Magdalena December 25, 2008 at 5:23 pm

It’s hard to avoid the last-minute don’t-have-enough giving. But our ancestors gave very little at Christmas, and they seemed to do just fine. American readers all know the “Little House” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and her Christmas stories. That should be the American standard – handmade gifts, a little candy, and the joy of being together despite adversity.


jodi December 26, 2008 at 6:43 am

Christmas has come and today starts a new day. My DD made gifts to give aunts and uncles-namely christmas ornaments and the likes. Adults decided not to exchange gifts. The real little kids got something to keep them busy from the thrift store.

With everyone in the family feeling the pinch of either cut wages, hours or loss of jobs no one went out and spent. For a change I was overjoyed. I was sick of repeating myself every year not to get us anything. For once no one gave us weird looks over thrift store items that the kids got. Alot of the stuff came from things my daughter was going to donate to the thrift store anyway and saved her a trip to do so. We made gft bags awhile ago so there wasn’t any wrapping or boxes to go be rcycled or worse tossed in garbage.

For a change we came home happy and not weighed down with gifts we didn’t ask for or want. Our DD got a few items she needed from us that she opened at home all bought at the thrift store. We spent less than $15.


Magdalena December 26, 2008 at 1:54 pm

Our family has agreed that from now on, we will use kraft paper for gift wrapping. We found out that gift wrap is not recyclable here! I expect that the prettiest hand-decorated paper will get saved and re-used.


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