SURVEY SAYS: Have You Finished Your Holiday Shopping?

December 16, 2010 ( - A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 22% of Americans now say they have finished their holiday shopping.  

Now, I know that not everyone buys gifts for the holidays, but this week, I asked readers if they were finished shopping – and, if not, which will (was) likely be the last gift they bought. 

Well, the results of our survey weren’t far off the Rasmussen poll – 21.2% of this week’s respondents said they were done with their shopping.  Additionally, more than half (51.7%) said that while they weren’t yet done, they were “close.” 

As for the rest, 12.5% simply said they weren’t done, 3.1% said they hadn’t even started, and 9.3% opted for “ho, ho, ho – you’re kidding, right?”  Oh, and the remaining opted for “other”, including:

We finished shopping for our son, niece and nephew and respective parents, but my wife gets 85% of the credit for that. We aren’t quite done shopping for each other yet.

This one is easy — when you’re unemployed, Christmas gifts consist of things that don’t require any cash outlay! Re-gifting of unused items reigns!

I thought I was, until I learned that my nephew is bringing his new live-in girlfriend for Christmas. One more little gift to acquire!

Yes, I am so through as of last night. Now I just have to wrap all the stuff.

My spouse and I were going overseas in mid-November, so I mailed everything before we left, to all the children, grandchildren, and GREAT grandchildren…….

Beginning to adjust/like the holidays as an empty nester, less stress more season sense. But if I get maudlin, I can always go to the mall and watch re-runs of myself at every stage of my life.

As for which gift (or recipient) was going to be last on their list, “spouse” was comfortably (uncomfortably?) atop that list, cited by 47.9%, while “significant other” was cited by 6.3%.  “Parents” were cited by one-in-four, and kid(s) by just under 21%. 

Also cited:

  • Mine, myself
  • Step kids
  • Nephew's wife's brother's girlfriend
  • Friend
  • My niece
  • Two best friends
  • My 1 1/2 year old Dora tricycle and Mickey's Choo Choo finished the list.
  • Nephew's live-in girlfriend.
  • Brother
  • Grandkids
  • Adult grandson
  • Brother's Dog
  • Friends
  • Office gift exchange item

More on the rationale(s) behind that ordering in a minute.  

I did ask readers to share their thoughts/comments/insights on holiday shopping, the timing of holiday shopping, and/or the inexorable urge to put it off till the last minute:


I do the majority of my shopping on Black Friday.  Not only because there are good deals, but also because it is the best block of time I can find to get the majority done.  Things get so busy that whatever I don't get done on Black Friday waits until the week or so before Christmas.

We actually bought our first gifts back in the summer and were at last 90% done by the end of November. However, that last 10%, for various reasons, always causes a lot of angst and is normally put off until the end.

We only buy for the little kids which makes Christmas much easier on the adults (no thinking about what to get someone who has everything) and watching the kids is the terrific.

I hate how it sneaks up on us every year.  If only it was always on the same day.

Never look forward to it.  Too many crowds, traffic, and unhelpful sales staff (i.e., you would think the stores would provide enough cashiers so you could pay for the stuff).

Buy throughout the year. If you see something that would make a good gift for someone on your list, buy it! Don't think, "Oh, I have to remember that for Christmas time." You'll inevitably forget.

The combination of work, life, and working on an M.B.A. have put me behind.

The lousy, cold weather has kept me from going out after work, so it is left for the weekends.

Every year I make a vow to start shopping earlier to avoid stress. Then, the following year I once again find myself stunned that the whole year has gone by and I have only two weeks to get everything done (including the decorations)!

I sort of like putting it off to the last minute...guess it's the excitement of all the people scurrying around.  Strange that I hate that at work...but it's fun when it's personal.  Maybe because she will love whatever I took the effort to get, whereas at work, the effort really doesn't matter, it's all about the results.

Some people enjoy the chaos. I don't.

Mostly, I love it. It is my favorite holiday. I love everything about it, especially since they invented online catalogues and I don't have to go within twenty miles of a mall.

I've done most of my shopping online this year... It cuts out the long lines, higher prices, and horrible Christmas music blasting in every store!

I like expendable gifts the best.....give me food and I can eat it, throw it away and be done with it. I really don't need more "things" to hang on the wall, put in the cupboard, or figure out what to do with.

"Shopping wasn't too bad for me.  We did a lot online, ordering gifts for the kids (DSi XL and game chairs) from Costco online.  I also started my shopping in the summer, picking up some gifts then and stashing them in the attic.  I've found almost all of what I needed at Target and Costco.  Groupon also helped me get a neat gift (30 laps in a NASCAR car for my wife, who LOVES to drive fast...but is not a fan of NASCAR...don't know how that will go over).

I've gotten several great deals from Costco using the Clark Howard ""if it ends in .97 it's the lowest price Costco will accept"" rule.  That means it's on Close Out.  Got my wife a WONDERFUL 6 foot take nutcracker from Costco for $150.  Marked down from $300.  One of the last ones they had left.  I try to give her at least one nutcracker a year, but I have to make it something original.  We have so many now, it's getting harder and harder, but I always succeed!

My wife says I am very hard to shop for. So I now will make loud pronouncements when looking at the Craftsman section of the Sunday paper, ""WOW...look at that Lithium Ion powered cordless drill!  That would sure be a NICE replacement for my old drill!!  I'll have to think about getting one of those!!!! Let me mark this page so I can find it again easily.""

Works!  For my wife, I pick up on whatever clues she gives out during the year.  I've succeeded in surprising her each of the past three years.  Got her an iMac one year (she wasn't expecting it).  Got her a complete set of nice All-Clad copper core cookware last year and gag gifted her with an ugly pot before she got the whole set.  I was working up to getting her a new car, but she got one last year before Christmas.  I had an elaborate plan in place to get the car Christmas Eve, store it at my neighbor's house, move it into our garage around 1 in the morning.... Oh well... I'll have to wait for another 10 years to try that one ;-)."

I try to start and finish early, but it never seems to work out.  In addition to my own shopping, I am also responsible for doing all the Christmas shopping for my elderly parents.

"Don't like putting it off but don't like doing it either - cold, windy, snowy weather does not help either.  Fortunately I have a wife that enjoys shopping.  We're also getting the ""Oh, I need a gift for ... to bring to school/Brownies/church tomorrow"" from the kids.  That's always fun, especially late at night.

Have a merry Christmas and joyous holiday season!"

I wish I could think of things to by my husband!  We don't usually exchange gifts, but I like to get him something to open.  This year I lucked out with 2 Patriots/Packers tickets for Gillette Stadium this Sunday, but only because I was able to purchase them from someone who knew someone. I already gave them to him and he's looking forward to it.  (He's from WI originally and we now live in MA, so we kinda root for both teams.)  Now I bet he's wondering what he's going to get me!  Did I mention a woman can never have enough jewelry? 

"i start holiday shopping the weekend before thanksgiving - one full day of shop til you drop

i go out on the friday after thanksgiving cause it is the american way and again, shop til you drop and finish up the first saturday in december when i got to NYC to see the lights, enjoy the hustle and bustle and buy the ""last minute"" stocking gifts."

I started back in September getting my list in order.  It seems to grow every year.  I avoid shopping on Black Friday...more like the Zoo at the Mall.

I shop year round.  I just need a better idea of what is in the gift drawer and for who -- some people are very easy to buy for!

I actually love to go holiday shopping as it puts me in the mood during the holidays.  I usually start on Black Friday and end the weekend before Christmas.

I never finish my shopping ... as soon as I am done with the current holiday, I start looking/buying for next year!

I hate fighting the crowds of people and the ridiculous drivers in the parking lot.  I like online shopping, and this year I discovered cyber-Monday.  I never knew this existed.  Guess I was living in the dark ages.  However, I only bought stuff for myself on that day.

It a little slow at work a couple of weeks ago and I had reached my maximum vacation accrual so I took two days off and went on a marathon shopping expedition.  All my shopping is done and the presents are wrapped.  I am feeling very organized this year.

I begin shopping in October and have almost 90% completed at the end of the day after Thanksgiving.  My daughter and I have made a tradition of going early and staying late and eating at least two meals out.  It is a great time for both of us. 

I, like most other men, hate shopping. Women say it fun... that is a lie. It's stressful.  We are not very good at picking up subtle hints and we really don't pay attention to what you really want. So, we wind out buying something that you "claim" to love, only to find it in the back of your closet or in the box for salvation army a couple years later. I'd much rather have you buy your own gifts and me buy mine, within a budget of course. That way, everyone gets what they really wanted.

I would like to implement the following eligibility rule for gift recipients:  If you don't get tucked in and read a story at night, you don't get a Christmas present.

Normal shopping is not one of my favorite sports so you can imagine that holiday shopping makes me cringe.

This is the first year I've put off my holiday shopping.  While not one to be done before the decorations hit the stores, I just can't seem to muster the energy to get out there to deal with it.

I tend to gather items through out the year. I make a lot of items (knit scarves and hats, cross stitch pillows, put together origami boxes, cook up jam and cookies) and use the internet for the rest.  I loathe shopping with the masses, I try to avoid it at all costs.  Before the internet I did my shopping through catalogs.

Haven't had the time.  it also doesn't feel like Christmas shopping unless you do it in December.

We are lucky where we buy only buy for our two children and 5 nieces/nephew/cousins (all under the age of 13. The ONLY reason we buy for two of these mentioned children is because we see them on Christmas day and it's an obligatory reciprocal arrangement. I was NOT in the mood to buy anything for my children this year (under the age of 9) because they don't need anything, including toys (and it's not like there aren't any toys they don't play with left in the house as we've donated the items they didn't play with). My little one doesn't even play with most of the "left over toys" from my oldest, thus, they move right to a donation center. We joke that my little one will never receive anything new (even clothing) as she'll always get hand-me-downs from the oldest. Kind of like the Waltons. Last year, I went searching in the house for un-opened containers of play-dough, unsharpened pencils, etc. and filled their stockings (although I did buy a couple new things). I looked at it as 1) a money saver (for retirement), 2) recycling, and 3) a time saver trying to find things for their stockings. They were never the wiser and were just as appreciative as the year before. Wish I could do the same this year! However, some of my inertia is a result of my oldest, for the 6th year in a row, saying that Santa can bring her anything he'd like. Now that's a gift to us! 

"I have a long-standing :no mall"" rule from Nov. 1 - Jan. 1.  

People think they're in good spirits but all seem to have one speed (""full"") and direction (""forward."")

The lack of civility is overwhelming."

I have to get my shopping, decorating and baking done early.  I spend the last two weeks of every quarter prepping for quarterly reports.  I don't have time to mess with holiday stuff after the 15th.

I have become really annoyed with the craziness placed around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Just price things reasonably and let people shop like in a Dickens novel not like the craziness of Jingle Bells.

Thank goodness for the internet!!

Parenthood killed the urge to put it off for us when our son was 3-year-old. Scrambling all over town looking for a gift that was sold out everywhere and back-ordered online with a week to go until Christmas is not an experience we ever plan to repeat. 

As for why those particular choices for “last gift” were “last” – well, the reasons were, as you might expect, varied (I’ll let you match the reason with the rationale(s):

He hasn't given me many ideas, so I am trying to come up with ideas first.

She will drop a last minute hint and I'll be paranoid enough to think she won't be happy if I don't get that one too (in addition to the dozen already purchased).

One of my son's still hasn't created his Santa wish list, yet.

After reaching my goal of completing the holiday shopping I still have shopping days left to find the perfect item for myself as a reward!

Waiting to see what dates friends are available for basketball game.  Present for him will be tickets to the game.

Always has been and it's always something I need. However, I've been especially nice this year, so maybe...

My wife will not give me a list and I have no idea what to get her.  I will run out last minute with the pressure on and come up with something.  I thought after giving her field pants for hunting last year she might give me a list this year.

Only one I have to shop for.

My spouse has bought most of the gifts including some for herself. I need to wait until she's done to see what I have left from the gift budget.

Easiest one to get. 

I need to shop carefully, and it takes a while.

Actually, they will all be last...everyone is getting gift cards this year.

I'm never finished shopping for the kids.  It's a year long event!

Because she won't give me any ideas, so I am on my own...which is tough for a procrastinator.

My wife buys gifts for everyone but herself. I go out one day per year and buy some wonderful stuff. Unfortunately, a color blind person should not shop for his wife. Every once in a while I get it right. Can't go wrong with black.

They are all in their twenties. Their father is greatly in need of a Round Tuit.

I still have no idea what to get him!

It's the only one I buy

I'm waiting until the cutoff point for our credit card...... so his purchase will be on next month's billing.

Well, DW (SWMBO) wants a computer armoire (why do I think of the SOUP NAZI???).  I've at least convinced her to let us buy used on Craig's List.  New they run over $2,000.  Used on Craig's List, they can be had for $200.  Seems like a win-win.  But SWMBO has specific requests to the point that she has to see the unit "in situ" before she likes it.  Oh well.  Who said life was easy.  She's really not that bad.  I love her to death, but I have a lot of fun at her expense.

I will be spending Christmas Day at my nephew's home.  I am still trying to decide if it is necessary for me to buy a gift for my nephew's brother-in-law's girlfriend who I have never met and who will also be in attendance.

Lack of suggestions from my dad and trying to find the perfect gift - haven't had time to get to Cabela's which is a little out of the way

Just going to get grocery store gift cards for my mother--no need to make a special trip. I can pick those up when I go this weekend.

Just worked out that way

She is the light of my life and I just can't seem to stop shopping for her!

Running out of creative ideas.

After I'm done shopping for everyone else, i always buy myself something i don't need, is not very practical, but is my gift to me - from me - i get a gift receipt and a box - this year, i bought myself a sweater from an upscale store that i always go in, but never shop in - i did find my gift on the sale rack (at least i was using a little sense) - i will wrap it up and be surprised on Christmas morning

My list is complete...finished shopping for my family and friends...and for Sistercare (local charity).

Just learned she was joining us.  Otherwise, I was done last week!

Hard to know what to buy her.

She is soooooooooooooo hard to get a gift for.

It will be a gift certificate which will be bought at the last minute so that there would be a lesser chance of misplacing it!

Motto: I shop til I drop, so since I buy more often for the kids, it is more likely that my very last purchase on this earth will be for one of them.

Didn't get any gift ideas from step-son until yesterday

My husband and I always set a budget on what we spend on each other.  Once again, he's asked to raise the limit because he found "the perfect gift" for me and it's over the limit.  So now I have more shopping to go to spend the new limit.  Not that I'm complaining.

What he wants if difficult to find and will mean a trip to another town

She already buys all the other gifts. How can I get her to buy her own too?

I really don't know what they need or want.

My son wants/needs clothes and the best way to do this is to take him shopping myself (or send my reliable daughter with him) and make him try on said clothes.  It saves major hassles after Christmas.  Or the easy way out is just to give him money and hope he spends it on clothes.  No, I should send him with my daughter and my credit card.  Remember, I said she is reliable. 

I haven't decided what stage the relationship is at so I'm not sure what to get or how much to spend.

My mom asked for a pair of Yak tracks...

Because he was with me for the rest of the shopping.  Poor guy he is Hindi and I love Christmas, house decorated, baking cookies, going to The Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker, sitting in a house with 50 of my family members.  Such a good sport, plus he has started humming Christmas carols randomly.  Love it!

No kids - only one I shop for.

Last splurge!

My husband has to go with me to pick his mother's gift.

The gift is for my husband and its not really the last gift I buy because I've already paid for it but it will be the last gift I can cross off my list because it won't be delivered until 12/24!  Talk about cutting it close!

We're in a position to be able to give generously to younger family members and charities.  We promise each other each year not to buy anything for each other but always find an excuse to do it anyway.

All of the rest of the gifts were able to be ordered online.  I had to actually go to the store for the last one so that made it the last gift that I purchased.

Because dog toys, etc are easily findable at grocery stores.

Because I have all the others & those are the only ones I don't have yet

Kids come first.

Office gift exchange item....nuff said.

The rest are all done. 

But this week’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who explained, “Because I don't stop until I run out of time. - (grandkids)” 

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!