Last Minute Holiday Jams — My Annual Article on Getting Things Done for the Holidays

It’s late. You may think it’s too late for those holiday greeting cards. Or that you have to take off time from work to get those last-minute gifts. Or have to suffer the embarrassment of having forgotten someone’s gift.

Don’t worry. I’ve got solutions for you that will get those cards and gifts out in time. I write about these every year, but this year, I have found some additional resources for you.

First, let’s deal with those holiday cards you’ve kept putting off. Few people like to do them, and most folks do them fairly late. You’re not alone.

The very best resource for taking care of cards at any time of year is the one recommended by the Post Office website. It is gives you a selection of cards — including the enclosure of gift cards, if you like — that they will personalize, print, stamp and mail for you. It only takes a day or two. All you have to do is fill in the addresses of your recipients (which you can have saved for future orders), choose your cards and send. You can be done in a very short time. You can even design your own card. Furthermore, each and every card can have a unique message added. The cost is extremely reasonable.

I’ve only dealt with, so it is the only one I can recommend, but I’ve found others that do pretty much the same thing. You may want to investigate and try them:

Now, about those last minute gifts.

My perennial favorite is with Prime Membership. If you haven’t been using Prime Membership, you’ve been missing a great bargain and a great productivity tool. You already know that sells just about everything you can imagine and at very good discounts.

You have probably also used their free shipping for orders over $25. But with Prime, you get free shipping on qualified purchases regardless of price and you get the purchase in two days (sometimes including Saturdays). Free shipping in any case only applies to purchases fulfilled by — if you buy it through Amazon but it’s actually sold and shipped by a third-party vendor, it isn’t included in the free shipping deal. I gladly pay the $79 per year charge and get way more than my money’s worth. (Oh yes, and if you want it next day, you can just pay a $3.99 extra fee per item. Wow. One day shipping for $3.99!)

At the holidays and other times I want to send gifts at the last minute, it’s a life saver. Not to mention that I really like being able to get my own purchases fast year-round.

But, what if you’ve waited too long for even overnight shipping, you’re still in luck. There are always gift cards and gift certificates. These days, you can find all kinds of gift cards — like iTunes and Barnes & Noble — in your local supermarket. Just grab your milk and bread and a handful of gift cards. And, actually, gift cards are the most time-saving route in shopping chores as well as the most requested kind of gift.

If you don’t want to go out to get the gift cards or gift certificates, here are the most popular ones (the ones most requested by recipients) to order online:

There is also has something called a “SuperCertificate” that can be exchanged for any of their gift cards from hundreds of stores, restaurants and entertainment providers. You can print out the certificate from your computer, put it in a card and hand it over, all in a matter of minutes. (Or you can send it by email.)

I do want to take the time to mention that there are some drawbacks in using gift cards/gift certificates. Some of past problems with them have been eliminated, but you should read the following article before you trust your money to gift card providers: “Understand Gift Card Rules”, by Susan Tompor.

Have a happy holiday season!