Procrastination is an entirely natural response to multiple sources of stressful stimuli. It's a way of triaging unpleasant, but necessary, tasks and obligations by reimagining their importance in the hierarchy of things. The dishes are less important than the car wash, which is less important than your haircut, which is less important than ... you get the picture.
Unfortunately, when it comes to holiday shopping, this strategy doesn't work. The deadlines can't really be extended, especially for those who travel for the annual social and familial obligations that the holidays engender. As a result, last-minute shoppers must adapt to the sudden time crunch.
Not everyone is so good at adapting. Here are a few of the most obvious of the many types of last-minute shoppers.
1. The Unreasonably Upset by the Lack of Inventory
By the end of the holidays, you'd think reasonable people would expect that the most popular sizes and colors would be sold out, and that the season's hottest toys and technology would be long gone.
The problem with that thinking is that it overlooks the fact that reason disappears long before the first sales even begin.
So what you're left with are people who are unreasonably upset by the lack of inventory. Maybe ... SHOP EARLIER? I know, crazy, right?
2. The "Give Me One of Those" Jewelry/Accessory Buyer
Men who have waited until the last minute are famous for this.
The process is simple: walk in, see jewelry or purse, ask price, purchase, leave. No questions other than, "Now ... if she doesn't like it, can she bring it back?"
3. The Gift Carder
At least it's not as obviously last minute as taking the twenty and six singles from your wallet and putting them in an envelope.
This is a pretty good go-to if you've got nieces and nephews.
Or just hand them cash ... they won't care.
4. The Drugstore Aisle Wanderer
This is how you ended up with a hastily wrapped Pez dispenser and a box of staples ... it's also how you can get some pretty decent shopping done at the 11th hour. Who doesn't love basic office supplies and Band-Aids? Just imagine the look of joy on grandma's face when she unwraps a box of condoms and some allergy meds!
5. The "Still in Denial" Shopper
Store is closing in two minutes. It's December 24. They've walked around for an hour "just looking" and now, at the moment of decision, they balk: "Mmmmmm ... I'm gonna think about it."
Well. Good luck with that. See you at the drugstore.
6. The "Whatever, I'll Take It" Desperado
At least they're quick about it, as is usually the case with anyone who is sick to death of going shopping.
7. The Self-Promoter
If you're an artist of any kind — especially a musician or a writer — the temptation to give copies of your latest book, CD, or other work is always tempting, especially at the last minute. Hey, not judging: you do you.
Maybe don't include a signed 8-by-10-inch with it, though. That might come off as a bit louche.
8. The Bargain Hunter
I suppose it doesn't hurt to ask, but let me save you some trouble if you've waited until closing time to start asking about prices.
No, you didn't see it cheaper on the website.
No, that doesn't include sales tax.
No, we can't offer you a discount.
No. No. No.
9. The "It's For Me" Shopper
The calmest last-minute shoppers are undoubtedly the ones who are just buying for themselves. They've got it together. They're reasonable. They look out on the panicked masses with equal parts of generous tolerance and amused pity.
Which of these types are you or do you know? Let us know in the comments below. Happy holidays!