If you are like me, you always wait until the last minute to go shopping for holiday gifts. I am a procrastinator, and it is never more of a hindrance than in the holiday season. As is gets closer to Christmas, malls fill up with frantic shoppers desperately looking for gifts for loved ones. It may seem impossible to find the perfect gift when you are wandering around a packed mall surrounded by so many stores that are filled with so much stuff.

But fear not, procrastinating holiday shoppers. Here are some helpful tips to get you through last minute holiday shopping:

1. Try to get to the mall or shopping center early in the day. Earlier in the day there are going to be less shoppers. With less shoppers means more parking spaces, so no driving around aimlessly praying for a parking spot. Also, there will be less people in general around you while you’re shopping. Less distractions, more space to do your thing.

2. Provided that you have the time, spilt up your holiday shopping into two or more days. Don’t try to buy everything for everyone in one day. This adds unnecessary stress, so make it more manageable. You can instead shop for a couple of people on your list one day, and then a couple more the next. I find it easiest to split up shopping for family members one day, and then shopping for friends another.

3. On one of your shopping trips, go with a family member that is on your shopping list. I learned this one this year. I went with my mom to the mall to get a present for my dad. As we were looking around, she would pause and look at a couple of items that she liked. Once she stopped to look at a tea kettle, but couldn’t find the exact one she wanted. After describing her specific guidelines, I looked on Amazon and found the perfect one. It was easier buying gifts for her after shopping with her because I knew exactly what she wanted.

4. Ask for gift lists from people, and if they say the typical, “Oh I don’t know” or “You don’t have to get me anything,” then insist on the list. Having a list reference makes shopping easier. Plus, you are more likely to buy something that the recipient needed or wanted. When you’re stumped on a gift idea, just ask.

5. If you are still completely stumped on gift ideas, books or gift cards may be your safest way to go. Buy a popular book for an avid reader in your family, and you can do no wrong. Observe or ask about which genre they enjoy most and pick something out. Gift cards may seem impersonal, but they make a great stocking stuffer. I often buy my dad a gift card to Home Depot because he is always working on some type of project in our backyard. If you do get someone a gift card, try to couple it with another gift that is more personal.

6. Finding the perfect gift for your significant other can be the most stressful part of the holiday. Yesterday, a friend of mine told me that she was struggling to think of a gift idea for her boyfriend because he is very practical, and she couldn’t think of anything he would like. So, for your boyfriend or girlfriend, try to buy something that shows you listen to them. For example, last year I told my boyfriend that I adored chocolate covered strawberries, so he sent a bunch to my house. If he/she is a fan of a certain sports team, buy them a T-shirt. If he/she loves cooking, buy them a recipe book. The key is to pay attention to what they enjoy.

Year after year many of us procrastinate on the holiday shopping and tell ourselves that we will get an early start the next year. But, other commitments often get in the way, and we are forced to shop at the last minute. Holiday shopping can be a stressful experience. With these tips, hopefully your last-minute shopping experience will be a bit less taxing. Maybe next year we will try to get an early start.