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How to buy a present at the very last minute

Updated on October 3, 2014

Gift Wrapping

Oh no! It's the birthday of so-and-so!

Are you the kind of person who never ever forgets a birthday? Do you have the dates of birth of every family member and friend you have, every colleague and second cousin's next-door-neighbour, indelibly engraved upon the surface of your brainpan? If so, then congratulations, it must be great to be so highly organised!

But as we all know, most of us are not that fortunate, and certainly most of us are not blessed with the kind of photographic memory that would make such a feat easy and masterable. No, indeed – a more common scenario involves waking up, taking a look at the date and time on one's phone as one switches the alarm off, and giving an appalled double-take. The realisation? You've forgotten your significant other's birthday! (Or Mother's Day, or Father's Day, or Valentine's Day, or Tax Day. (Seriously? You don't send a card to the tax-man on Tax Day? The IRS would no doubt be interested to hear that...)

So, what happens then? Time is short, that's what. How do you find an adequate present, when online shopping isn't an option, a trip to the nearest really decent-sized city or mall would take too long, and the stores available in the distance you can feasibly travel to in the available time are strictly limited in their range of goods?

In that kind of time-frame your strategy is limited by circumstance, and I believe you need to apply one of two tactics to the problem.

Beautiful gift wrapping

Public domain image.
Public domain image. | Source

ONE: Be Flexible

This maybe sounds obvious, because with highly limited time to shop for a gift for your loved one, you'd better believe you're going to need to be flexible about what to whip your wallet out for in the end. But it's surprising, all the same, just how many people will dilly-dally and still insist on trawling from store to store, still in search of the absolutely perfect present, even as the hours and minutes tick down to the deadline of that birthday or other day of celebration.

But you can't do that, not if you want a gift that is timely as well as acceptable. What you need to do is to set constraints, targets and limits. Decide – in advance – how many stores you will browse in. Make, if possible, a short-list of theoretically acceptable gifts. Add a time-limit, by which time the gift that's ahead according to your criteria will be in your sweaty palm at the cash register, along with your wallet. And then mobilize, activate the troops, and go into action!

Check out this strictly limited number of stores, note down in your little notebook or smartphone text editor anything that strikes you as remotely acceptable, and move on to the next store. And when your timed deadline strikes? Check out the list of potential gifts that you've made, score them for acceptability – and buy the best! Never mind about perfect – when it comes to birthdays, timely is at least as important!

TWO: Throw a whole wad of money at the problem.

And then again, your second option is to ignore most of the problems of choice – which are largely due to having to factor in price when you're choosing the 'perfect' present. Instead, mentally throw that upper price limit in the dustbin, and it makes getting a present that will thrill and excite the recipient suddenly a whole lot easier.

There's barely a birthday girl or boy in the world who's going to turn their nose up at a Ferrari wrapped up in a birthday bow on their front driveway on their birthday morning. Seriously! Even if they can't drive! How about a string of utterly perfect and flawless seed pearls? Or one fifteen carat flawless diamond?

Hey, try it! I guarantee the person you're gifting with a super-luxury item will love it! And you!


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