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No time left to shop? No problem. Well, not if you're Shannon Ridgeway, district marketing director for Westfield Old Orchard & Illinois District. The shopping pro knows the ins and outs of last-minute gift buying, and she was willing to send us some S.O.S. Here, Ridgeway shares her tips for the last-minute shopping run that will leave you with prettily wrapped packages—and the chance to let out a deep exhale—next Wednesday.
· "Create a strategy. For anyone shopping at this peak point, time-savers are essential. Create a list of the categories you need to pick up – remaining gift recipients, holiday décor, etc. – on your phone, and map out retailers that might be a fit ahead of time."
· "Parking is notoriously a headache, so know the benefits of your shopping destination. For example, Westfield Old Orchard will valet your car for just $4 at our Valet Lounge near California Pizza Kitchen. The center has also partnered with Enterprise CarShare to provide applicants and members with VIP parking spots already labeled in our lot." Ed's note: This can apply to any shopping destination. Call ahead to the shopping center or stores you plan to visit and ask them what your best bets are to avoid circling around the block 30 times (triple ugh.)
· "Come prepared: Toss on a cross-body purse and save your coffee for a post-shopping treat – you'll want your hands free for browsing and carrying shopping bags."
· "Many try to get a quick shopping spree in on their lunch break, so the 11:30 to 2 p.m. window is always a bit more crowded. Westfield Old Orchard [and other malls] have extended holiday hours to better accommodate shopper needs. Go in the evening, after 8 p.m. when most families are already back home or others are out to eat. Old Orchard is open until 10 p.m. until Christmas Eve (in which we close at 6 p.m.), which leaves plenty of stress-free hours ahead."
· "Go for gift cards—seriously! Most people forget that malls offer gift cards that are applicable center wide. Instead of limiting your recipient to one store, you can give them the gift of selection."
· "Stock up on gift sets. These pre-packaged sets take the hassle out of shopping for multiple pieces of the perfect present—and wraps it up for you! Stores including LUSH, L'Occitane en Provence, and Art of Shaving have great options that will please even the pickiest of recipients."
· "Only have 15 minutes to spare and many gifts to cover? Opt for a department store like Nordstrom or Bloomindgale's. Not only will you find options for every person in your life, you can usually uncover options at every price point. Plus, their gift boxes are chic enough for you to simply add a bow and check gift wrapping off of your list."
· "Still searching for last-minute gift ideas? Here are four of my favorites:
1-Bring your hostess this adorable hot chocolate pot from Williams-Sonoma. After you add milk and powdered cocoa, its built-in whisk blends everything together for you.
2-This fuzzy ascot tied in a bow from Anthropologie is perfect for your office bud.
3-How fun are these Muffin Tops baking cups for your sister-in-law who loves to bake?
4- For your male boss, opt for a silk knot lapel pin from Hugo Boss. It's classic, but thoughtful at the same time."
· Westfield Old Orchard Mall [Official Site]
· All Westfield Old Orchard Mall coverage [Racked Chicago]
· All Holiday 2013 coverage [Racked Chicago]