For all you last-minute procrastinators who have waited until the 11th hour to do your Christmas shopping, don’t fear. Legendary writer Robert Greene, author of 33 Strategies of War, has you covered. Follow his fool-proof shopping guide to attack your gift-giving, guerilla-style.

1. Declare War on Your Enemies: The Polarity Strategy

You must identify who you are fighting as you enter the crazed Christmas gift fray. There is the inner enemy, yourself, for having waited this late in the game to enter the check-out battle lines. As for your outer enemy, there may be a plethora. They are the other shoppers, who may prevent you from nabbing the last vanilla-scented bath bomb for grandma, or COVID-19, which has caused supply chain issues so profound you may never see that collectible Star Wars Lego set your little cousin has so lusted after.

2. Create a Sense of Urgency and Desperation: The Death-Ground Strategy

You cannot run, you cannot hide from the impending holiday. There is no escape. In order to win, you must espouse the “one and only chance” approach. Whatever items you find at the Target, Kohl’s, or Walmart in your neighborhood strip mall are the spoils of war you will bring home. Your desperation is your best ally.

3. Pick Your Battles: The Perfect Economy Strategy

Your resources are spread thin between travel costs and buying copious booze to keep you sane around family. But last-minute gift costs run sky-high. Price-gouging is a battle this time of year. You have to balance your ends to your means. Do not get overextended. Layaway is not your friend. Do not proceed with buying unaffordable gifts only out of pride. Stop before things get out of hand.

4. Lose The Battles But Win The War: Grand Strategy

Launch a Great Campaign like Alexander the Great. Do not become greedy. Gain the ground you need by ensuring everyone will get a gift, but don’t become so lofty with your desire to impress people with your presents that you fail miserably at getting your goods in a timely manner. The great can’t become the enemy of the good when you choose to gift last-minute. Moreover, set a goal to avoid this issue next year by attacking the gift game between Black Friday and mid-December.

5. Overwhelm Resistance With Speed and Suddenness: The Blitzkrieg Strategy

Utilize Genghis Khan’s slow-slow-quick-quick strategy. Begin with small, deliberate attacks, tiny gifts that are easy to find. They may look like losses when compared to large gifts, but once the little things are out of the way, you will be free to make swift, impactful large-scale attacks.

6. Defeat Them in Detail: The Divide and Conquer Strategy

Surprise and splinter the gifts, attacking the pieces. If you can split them into groups and knock them off one at a time, it will be much easier and less daunting than staring at the infinite void that a lengthy shopping list can mirror. Look at the parts and determine how to control them individually.

7. Know How To End Things: The Exit Strategy

There are but precious short hours between now and the ripping of wrapping paper, destruction of boxes, and throwing of tissue paper that comes the morning of Dec. 25. You must be able to acknowledge when you are defeated and cut your losses. There is a way to win with flair while bringing a positive conclusion to the encounter.

[This writing reflects satirical edits to quotes from Robert Greene’s ‘33 Strategies of War’]

Observation Post is the Military Times one-stop shop for all things off-duty. Stories may reflect author observations.

Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digital Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.

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