8 Shopping Games for Procrastinators

You know you're going to leave your holiday shopping for the last minute. May as well make it as low-stress as possible.

Couple on sofa surrounded by Christmas shopping bags Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images
Unless you're Pinterest Mom incarnate, odds are you're going to leave some—OK, most—of your holiday shopping for the last minute. But between the crowds, the traffic (or extra fees for rushed delivery), and the stress of cramming a season's worth of buying into a few last-minute days, shopping under the gun isn't exactly merry. So why not make a game out of it to take the edge off? No, really.

Check out or tips, tricks, and fun little games that will help make your inevitable Christmas Eve shop-a-thon kinda fun. Next year you'll do Black Friday... right?

1. Shop Alphabetically

Instead of willy-nilly poking around online or roaming the aisles of your favorite bookstore waiting for something to pop out at you, go into your last-minute shopping with a plan and a purpose. Alphabetize everyone who you still need to buy for and attack your list from top to bottom. It'll help you stay focused and will (hopefully) prevent you from mindlessly wandering around stores or haphazardly clicking around online.

2. Set a Timer

Partake in your own personal version of Supermarket Sweep by shopping against a timer (with a realistic amount of time on it, of course). If you beat the clock, treat yourself to a latte or a small treat. And if you don't, well, nothing really happens, you just have to spend more time shopping.

3. Race a Friend

Find a fellow shopping procrastinator and challenge him or her to a duel. Last one done buys the other dinner. If that isn't motivation, what is?

4. Play 'Who's That?'

If you're braving the crowds and doing your shopping IRL, why not have a little fun with it? Come bearing a list of the people you need to buy for, and any time you see someone in the store who bears a slight resemblance to any of them, buy that person a gift. You're obviously not going to be bumping into your family and friend's doppelgangers, so you may have to suspend your disbelief a bit for this one.

5. Test Your Willpower

Before you begin shopping—be it online or in-person—set yourself up with something tasty, such as a holiday coffee or a flaky scone. But don't touch it! The only way you can take a sip or bite is after each time you check someone off your list. Just try procrastinating when the sweet smell of sugar is wafting in your direction.

6. Pick a Soundtrack

Make a holiday playlist for your last-minute shopping and jam out while you work your way through your list. The twist? Pick two to three songs for each person you need to buy for and shop for them—and only them—while "their songs" are playing. When the songs are done, it's on to the next person!

7. Pick a Theme and Stick With It

Instead of trying to perfectly personalize each and every gift, pick one overall theme—magazine subscriptions, food-based items, clothing—and get something for everyone within that category. Not only will it be fun to come up with the theme, it will make shopping a breeze.

8. Shop to Your Favorite Holiday Movie (Kids or Adult)

You know what makes down-to-the-wire shopping kind of fun? A holiday flick! Put on your favorite seasonal movie and vow to have all of your shopping done by the time it's over (this only works with online shopping, obviously). When the movie's finished, you'll be happy that you're finally done with your shopping and you'll be in the holiday spirit.