Paper Source will wrap gifts while you wait – you can't drop them off – and only when the store is not busy, said spokeswoman Emily Senk. The cost is $4 to $10. The chain's eight Chicago-area locations are open until 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve., except for the Oakbrook store, which is open until 6 p.m.
Gift wrapping at Papyrus' nine Chicago-area locations costs $4 to $12 per box, plus the cost of the paper. It's a good idea to call your local store to find out how soon you should bring in your packages if you want them wrapped before close of business on Christmas Eve.
For the truly time-poor, Papyrus even sells pre-wrapped gifts, including journals, pens and photo frames.
5. Your local neighborhood boutiques for a calmer, hipper holiday.
There are several great things about sticking to the little neighborhood stores: The mood will be less frantic, the selection more eclectic and you'll leave with your holiday glow boosted by the knowledge that more of the dollars you spent will stay in your neighborhood.
While neighborhood stores are not going to be open 24 hours or be able to offer aggressive price-matching guarantees, they have their perks, too. Local stores and smaller chains in nearly every neighborhood of Chicago are opening their doors longer during the last week before Christmas and pulling out all the stops to make your shopping experience easier.
Lincoln Park's Barbour, a tweedy British clothing store, is holding an after-hours shopping party on Friday, Dec. 21, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., with a special one-night discount, goody bags for those who donate a gently-used winter coat and refreshments.
Eco-friendly baby and kids' store Green Genes, in Andersonville, is open until 5 p.m. Christmas Eve, and a $15 or larger purchase gets you into a raffle for prizes including a $50 store gift card.
BREAKDOWN OF THE BEST LAST MINUTE STORES:
(Store Name:Christmas Eve Hours -- Return Policy)
- Toys R Us: 12 a.m. to 10 p.m. -- Most items can be returned for a full refund within 90 days.
- Macy's: Schaumburg and Oakbrook, 12 a.m. to 6 p.m., downtown 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. -- Return most items for a full refund with no time limit.
- Nordstrom: Hours vary by location -- No official return policy, but spokeswoman Ashley Boero said they “always try to do our best to make sure customers are happy with the merchandise they purchased at Nordstrom.”
- Target: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. -- Most items within 90 days, electronics within 30 days, Neiman Marcus collection by Jan. 5. Store charge card holders get an extra 30 days for most returns.
- Papyrus: LaSalle store 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., other locations may vary -- Can't return gift wrapping service.
- Paper Source: Oakbrook 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., other locations 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. -- Can't return gift wrapping service.
- Barbour: 10 a.m.to 4 p.m. -- Unworn merchandise accepted for up to one year with receipt and original credit card.
- Green Genes: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. -- Exchange for merchandise or store credit within 60 days.