Christmas is right around the corner, and as unbelievable as it may seem, some folks will wait until Christmas Eve to do their shopping. The good news is there are plenty of ways to score a great affordable gift in a flash. A Christmas miracle? No, you just need to know where to go. Here are some tips:
■ Drugstores. Many are open around the clock (some even on Christmas), and you can find more than just candy there. Walgreens offers same-day pickup for a handful of photo gifts including photo books and calendars. At many locations you can even get them within an hour. So pull out those photos on your phone to download for a great present.
Snag some great low-priced stocking stuffers at Rite Aid. They have toys on sale for 50 percent off with your wellness card.
Don't forget the beauty items. At CVS, when you buy $10 or more of holiday stocking stuffers, you will receive a free holiday basket while supplies last. Purchase $15 worth of Physician's Formula cosmetics to receive $10 in extracare bucks.
■ Supermarkets. Many supersized super markets have housewares, candles, furniture and even clothes. Gift cards are always a great last-minute gift. Look for Coors Light Beer displays that have a $5 mail-in rebate when you purchase $50 in gift cards.
Here's a creative idea: Write a family recipe on an index card and then purchase the ingredients so your recipient can make it themselves. Bundle it up in a pretty basket for a festive gift. You can also make a breakfast basket with jellies, pancake mix, maple syrup, hot chocolate and coffee to make a homemade breakfast for everyone on Christmas morning.
■ Big box stores. These stores are trying to get rid of stock. Sometimes you can pick up some great deals by waiting until the last minutes of the holiday season to make purchases.
Check out electronics. Look at the tech gifts everyone wants like Kindles, Keuring coffee makers and digital cameras for extra buying incentives. Kmart and Wal-Mart allow customers to shop the company website, pay for your item online then go to the closest store for pickup.
And don't forget to look at all those seasonal items. Now is the time to get beautiful holiday plates, tablecloths and decorations at deeply discounted prices.
■ Dollar stores. Load up on affordable presents for the kids with the large selection of $1 toys. You can fill up a stocking with school supplies, toys, sweets and snacks for a reasonable price. Don't forget to check their websites for store coupons. Dollar General often offers coupons for $5 of $20 off purchases on select days.
■ Don't rule out the web. Check out the daily deal sites like DealSaver.com, Groupon and Living Social for service certificates at a discounted price. These sites allow you to print a gift receipt to give that doesn't show how much you paid for the item.
■ Last, but most importantly, enjoy local fare by walking downtown to watch the ice skaters, look at the holiday lights, plus support your hometown businesses for those last-minute purchases. Take the kids and yourself to a wonderful treasure at the lower level of the Central Library to shop at Friends of the Library store. Here you can get gently used plus new DVDs, CDs, books on CD, books and more at 20 percent off until Dec. 21. Stroll by St. John & Myers Jewelry, 400 Old Vine Street, to view the beautiful homemade gingerbread houses on display. Bid on your favorite for just $1. Proceeds will be donated to Central Kentucky Riding for Hope. Stjohnandmyers.com/special-events.shtml
■ Remember Free Shipping Day is Dec. 18. This is a one day, online shopping event when thousands of merchants offer free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve.
■ Refer five friends to Gold Star Chili and you will receive an offer for a free regular 3-way at Gold Star Chili. Each of your friends will receive an offer for a free cheese coney. http://bit.ly/19Ck6Tg
■ Get five of your friends to enter Talenti sweepstakes and they will send you a voucher for free Talenti gelato and donate $5 to the Worldwide Orphans Foundation. http://on.fb.me/J6CCfI
■ Free hot chocolate for the kids on Sundays at Thornton gas stations from noon to 4 p.m. Purchase any gift card at Thorntons and receive 10 percent off.
■ Have Santa call someone you care about. Santadial.com
■ Send a free greeting card to someone from Acavano. Offer good for new customers only. Just enter promotional code Xmas1. http://bit.ly/1jOjEJ2
■ Upload a favorite photo of your furry friend then share it to receive a free sample of Beneful Healthy Smile. http://on.fb.me/1ddilP8
Deborah Morris' column, The Fru-Gal, can help you save money. Feel free to share tips on The Fru-Gal blog at Kentucky.com/living and visit her website, Fru-gal-friends.com.