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How to Shop on Christmas Eve

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By Heather Schröering

Christmas_Eve_shopping(MCT)—‘Twas the night before Christmas, at the house of the host. In the fridge were the pies and the salads and roast. The presents were wrapped ’neath the tree with great flair — except for Aunt Ida’s, who soon would be there. When panic arose, how the children did flee. “What’s open on Christmas Eve at 10:23?” Away to the car, the host flew in a flash. But with every mall closed, she knew not where to dash.

This scenario might be terrifying, but fear not, discouraged, last-minute gift-giver. Family Circle magazine’s articles director Jonna Gallo Weppler could save you with these gift ideas in a pinch — and you don’t have to travel farther than the supermarket.

“In an effort to remain competitive, groceries have gone so far beyond the grocery parameters,” Weppler said, “and they have a tremendous amount of options.”

Some of her tips:

It all adds up: Rather than settling for one gift item, try a themed gift basket, such as a spice assortment or bath bag. Explore the higher quality options of whatever you’re buying, and if you don’t have a basket handy, a cute reusable grocery bag can work, Weppler said. (Or visit the kitchen tools aisle for a shiny colander or bowl.)

Give someone an instant Italian evening with a jar of marinara sauce, a box of pasta, a bottle of olive oil and a chunk of fresh Parmesan cheese.

Or go for a breakfast basket, packed with whole-grain pancake mix, maple syrup, oatmeal and some citrus fruit. And don’t forget the coffee.

Get creative: Kids can never have enough art supplies. Grocery stores usually carry markers, crayons, colored pencils and coloring books in the office supplies aisle. Not only is it a gender-neutral gift idea, it’s great for families who are traveling.

“There’s something that’s fun about a brand new box of crayons,” Weppler said.

Page turner: If you’re really short on time, pick out a magazine your guest would like, and choose a one- or two-year subscription.

Many subscriptions are less than $20, Weppler said, and you still have a physical gift to present.

“That’s a gift that keeps on giving,” she said. “It’s nice to receive anything in the mail that’s not a bill.”

Trusty standby: Gift cards are, of course, always fast and fail-safe, and supermarkets generally have an expansive array. Weppler likes the offbeat options, such as home improvement stores or craft stores for kids.

But to avoid last-minute shopping panic altogether, Weppler suggested stocking up on popular online merchants’ gift cards and generic stationery.

“This way, you’re always just five minutes away from writing a little note on a card.”

©2013 Chicago Tribune
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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