Last minute Christmas — part 2

So, it’s December 23 and you still haven’t managed to finish shopping or send any cards. Maybe you want to be frugal about it. Maybe my suggestions in my prior blog about getting quick shipping from Amazon Prime don’t work for you because you don’t need it any other time. Not to mention that it’s kind of expensive unless you use it year ’round.

Not to worry. I’ve got even quicker and cheaper solutions to your last minute woes.

More on Greeting Cards

For holiday cards, just Google “print greeting cards for free.” You’ll get an endless list of printable cards sites. Many of these sites will allow you to customize the cards with photos and text. Others will just give you fixed downloads. Almost all of them will allow you to print either a regular half-fold or quarter-fold size. (Note: you’re best advised to get the printable cards you can download. If you print from the web, you may not be able to adjust the print resolution.)

So, you’ll be able to print your own predesigned cards on your printer. You can use regular letter paper for quarter-fold cards, but you’ll need card stock for half-fold cards. Other than the cost of paper and envelopes, assuming you have enough ink in your printer, you have a free solution to your need to send cards.

As with any craft-like project, you’ll have to try this out a bit to get nice results. But, let’s face it, if you just don’t have the time to go out and get cards, this is a fast solution. And the cards can be printing while you’re doing another project on the computer. If you’ve got to work, you’ve got to work.

More on Last Minute Gifts

Once you print up your holiday cards, you can use them as the vehicle for last-minute gifts. (Of course, you don’t have to print your own cards for the following gift-giving method. You can actually buy them.)

I mentioned using gift cards and certificates in my last post. But I wanted to say a few more words about them, because earlier I talked more about having them emailed. This time I want to encourage you to think of stuffing cash into greeting cards in addition to thinking about physical gift cards or printed certificates.

You know this already. Or you should. Christmas cards with money or gift certificates inside make for easy last minute gifts. Many folks just give cash gifts to their entire lists. Kids and teens especially appreciate getting money or the equivalent and being able to choose their own gifts.

Yet, I’ve been amazed by the number of folks who have forgotten about it or think it’s somehow a second-rate approach. I think that even though you can find racks of gift cards in supermarkets, it just escapes their notice in favor of the tradition of buying and wrapping (and sometimes shipping!) physical gifts.

And, since when did cash money gifts become déclassé?

Just remember, mail is too insecure for cash gifts. You need to reserve cash gifts for those you hand deliver. In fact, I seldom send even gift cards by mail. They aren’t assigned to specific recipients and anyone can steal and use them. That’s why I suggested sites like giftcertificates.com combined with email as the primary way of sending gift cards in my prior blog on the subject.

There is another way to use a “gift certificate” approach that isn’t as obvious as the common ways suggest above. If you haven’t yet been able to get the gift you plan to give someone, get a picture of it from the web. Print the pic, put it in a Christmas card and write on it, “This is the gift I’m giving you. It just won’t arrive until Tuesday.” Or whatever day it will arrive. Then you can just give them the card. Psychologically, it’s the equivalent of handing them the actual gift.

You can also use this approach when you are personally creating a gift and it isn’t finished yet. Get over the notion that it has to be a surprise until it’s complete. Give a picture of what the gift looks like and let the recipient enjoy the anticipation. (Only do this if you can be counted on to finish the gift. )