By Rebecca Dalzell | Posted: 11/5/2018
This holiday shopping season, it's time to do something radical: have fun. Let's enjoy the sheer excess of lights and ribbons and partygoers. Let's meander into jingling stores and chat with the shopkeepers, score unique gifts from across the globe and take the time to think about the amazing people we're buying for.
To curb the stress and up the pleasure, we've polled experts for pointers to match your gifting style. Because whether you're eco-minded or a sales hound, you should experience the holidays for the fun.
You Buy Everything Online
Online shopping is continuing its steady rise: Between 2016 and 2017, it grew an impressive 14.7 percent, to $108 billion. But, while shopping online makes life a lot easier, it also has some hidden hazards — especially for procrastinators.
Michelle Madhock, founder of shefinds.com, suggests paying attention to the small print to avoid last-minute shocks and surprises. “Make sure the items are in stock or guaranteed for Christmas delivery," she cautions. “If not, you might be handing out IOUs on December 25."
It's also important to keep an eye on shipping costs. To protect your bottom line, sign up for a subscription service like Amazon Prime (a great gift in itself), which includes free shipping. Also, many credit cards offer cardholders discounts for online shopping.
If you let things slide a little too late, look into Free Shipping Day on December 14. On that day, many retailers offer free shipping and a promise of delivery by Christmas Eve.
You Want to Give an Experience
For a gift that lasts well beyond December, consider an event, class or outing. Though ephemeral, experiences make memorable presents. There are options at every price point, from movie clubs to butchering classes. If you know your brother's favorite band, surprise him with concert tickets. Mom loves history? Arrange for a highbrow tour with Context Travel, which leads walks worldwide. Membership to a cultural institution is a fun, thoughtful — and sometimes tax-deductible — gift that gives all year.
You're a Bargain Hunter
Don't want to waste time on long last-minute lines at brick and mortar locations? No problem, says consumer and money saving expert Andrea Woroch. “Doorbuster deals trickle into December, so you don't have to battle crazy crowds," she says.
If you missed Cyber Monday, fear not, Madhock says. Bargains are often available well beyond Thanksgiving weekend. “Create a Pinterest board of items you want to buy, and Pinterest will email you when the price drops," she says.
You Shop With a Conscience
Some gift-givers prefer to support socially-conscious businesses. Fair Trade certifies companies that treat workers fairly, avoid toxic chemicals and reduce greenhouse gases. Browse its online list to find sustainable stocking-stuffers from chocolate to body lotion.
Other companies combine a social conscious with a more specialized focus. For example, Positive Luxury evaluates brands against ethical and environmental standards like business framework or philanthropic activities, so you can find products that are good for your body...and the environment.
You Love Handmade Presents
Handmade gifts add an extra bit of personality to your presents — and they aren't necessarily more expensive than mass-produced items. Online, Etsy makes it easy to find exactly what you want. You can browse categories like menswear and stationery or search only for items made in your hometown.
If you want to go a little more local, a fun way to shop for local crafts is at a holiday market like the Renegade Craft Fair, whose festive shows are touring in eleven cities this season. Cider in hand, you can stroll the aisles for everything from typewriter jewelry to walnut cutting boards. Best to make a day of it, because January comes all too soon!