Ever found yourself in the candy aisle at Walgreen's minutes before midnight on Christmas Eve? Those unwrapped gifts and empty stockings will sneak up on you. Here are a few tips for frenzied holiday procrastinators:
Procrastinator's problem: Running out of wrapping paper and boxes and just can't stomach another trip to the store?
Patch Answers: old magazines and cereal boxes. Go to the recycling bin and recycle old boxes clean enough to reuse (oatmeal box, shoe box, UPS box). Then, tear colorful ads out of the old magazines piling up on your coffee table. Tape them together and use your last couple strips of wrapping paper to accent (maybe as a fake ribbon).
*If the child asks: Why did Santa use a Cheerios box to wrap my new craft supplies? Answer: "Santa is going green, just like us. Isn't that great?"
PP: Have a party to attend but nothing to wear (except the same thing you wore last year)?
PA: First of all, whoever is throwing that party this close to Christmas probably also procrastinated in making and sending the invitations, so it doesn't really matter if you commit the re-wear. Second, find a way to use ribbon to accent your little black dress: make a belt, tie it around a sleeveless shoulder or if you're feeling bold, sew it to the hemline, cuffs or neckline. For men: find a piece of red fabric (or ribbon) that's bound to be around somewhere, fold it up and put it in the pocket of your jacket. Don't bother with a tie, this is a last-minute bash.
PP: Forget about that last "equalizer" gift for your sister-in-law from Topeka and barely have time to figure something out?
PA: This is a personal yet quick gift idea that shows you really put thought into it (even though you really didn't). Find an old photo they'd like (from their wedding, birthday party, graduation). Go to Bed, Bath & Beyond or and find a simple, black frame with matting already in place. They'll be so impressed with the thoughtfulness of the photo, you'll probably win the prize for best gift.
PP: Need stocking stuffers on Christmas Eve?
PA: Don't worry. We've all been there. Most places are open on Christmas Eve but it's understandable that you would rather have a fruitcake thrown in your face than trek through the mall crowd again.
Try a few places in Wheaton: Walgreen's and CVS to start. Think about your target recipient and personalize. What magazines does your teen like? What would they like to receive? Nail polish? Crayons? Deodorant and socks are never something Santa would think to give. If you do decide to brave a crowded store, have a gameplan before you get inside and take a buddy to scout the lines at the register.
and are also open on Christmas Eve. Arrowhead is open until 6 p.m. and offers free gift-wrapping to diners.
Lastly: buy online. Concert or sporting events tickets would be best here. Print out the ticket and wrap it up (these would work for gifts under the tree, too). Gifts that promise a good time or an event are almost better than toys or clothes. It gives the recipient something to look forward to.
*If the child asks: If your child notices you scurrying out the back door at 10 p.m. while they're setting out the cookies, just tell them your going to make sure the chimney is big enough for Santa and clear the ice off the roof for a safe landing. (My parents told me they were going to help Santa with some last minute chores. You can do better than that.)