Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Holiday Shopping Blues: Try Alternatives to the Stampede at the Mall

I think that it is all too easy to get caught up in the last minute holiday frenzy-- our time is short and our commitments are long, but there are many alternatives to braving the mall. Crowded malls filled with stressed-out shoppers can bring out the worst in some people as they fight for parking spots, or that last sweater on sale at a greatly reduced price (and one grabbed out of desperation rather than because one knows that it will be treasured by person #4 on your holiday gift list).

With this in mind, here are a few alternatives to consider:

1) Shop online instead-- you can avoid all of the hassles associated with last minute mall visits. If you are set to see the person before the gift arrives-- give them a card and tell them to watch for the UPS truck (and you can track the package yourself and give them an estimated delivery time).

2) Shop local small businesses- their gifts may be far more unique than what you find at the mall, and they won't be as busy. Additionally, they will benefit from your patronage in a very tangible and meaningful way.

3) Unplug from commercial gift-giving. Agree not to give conventional gifts, but instead take the money that you would have spent on each other to do something memorable together. If your friend/family member loves going to museums take them to a special exhibit followed by a lovely lunch. If your friend loves facials, but seldom gets them-- book a spa day for the two of you. You get the picture-- do something meaningful together. It will mean so much more to the recipient than that discounted sweater that didn't end up fitting anyway.

4) If you and your friend/family members don't want or need anything-- then make a donation in their name to their favorite charity.

5) If you have a particular skill-- then utilize your talent to spread cheer. If you are especially adept at floral arrangement- then dazzle people with your talent by gifting them one of your lovingly made creations. Additionally, it can serve as a stunning centerpiece at the table!

6) If you are low on funds and really can't afford to partake-- consider baking lovely cookies and breads and placing them in festive gift bags or gift tins. I'm not, however, talking about re-gifting the hot potato of a fruit cake that has been making the rounds for the last decade or so.

7) Too many family members on your list? Institute a Secret Santa so that you don't have to take out a second on the house to pay for all of those gifts.

8) Recalibrate your thinking: What do the holidays really mean to you and your friends and family? Consider being the designated person to document the family holiday (through pictures or video), and then make your gift to each of them the fruits of your labor. Make a photo album, framed picture, or a video for everyone there documenting the time spent together. That will be a gift that they can enjoy for a lot longer than that sweater that didn't fit!

9) If you are beauty product-obsessed enough to read beauty blogs, then chances are your close friends and family have some awareness of your penchant for makeup and skincare. It may be because they have seen that you have more than 10 nude lipsticks that all look quite similar to them, or that a glimpse into your bathroom cabinet looks more like the storeroom at Barneys than the products owned by an individual. If this is the case, then consider buying some of your holy grail products for the people that you think might really enjoy them. You never know, you might ignite something in them-- and before you know it they will be bookmarking their favorite beauty blogs as well!

10) If you have a friend or family member who has been wearing the same eyeshadow and lipstick as long as you can remember-- then suggest a trip to your favorite counter with your favorite makeup artist so that you can get makeovers together. This should prove to be a fun day together, and as a gift you can purchase them one of the products that looked especially gorgeous on them.

What would you add to this list?

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  1. Great post! I especially like the idea of gifting HG products to beauty-loving friends.

    1. Hi Chris!! I'm so glad that you enjoyed it! I think so many of us become fueled by desperation at the last minute-- and it's nice to think in terms of alternatives to the status quo of last minute shopping. It is WAY too stressful, and so often just brings out the very worst behavior in otherwise nice people. I'm glad that you liked the idea of gifting HG products-- it just seems logical to share the things that we love that much! Happy Holidays! :-)

  2. hey helen.
    hope all is well. i have taken to making my own "swag" bags when i have no idea what to give using my sample stash and take them out for a nice brunch. the idea has been a real hit.
    Happy holidays.

  3. hi helen.
    hope all is well. i have started to make swag bags using my own stash of samples when i do not know what to give. that and a nice brunch seems to be a big hit.
    happiest of holidays.

    1. Hi Michelle! I hope that you are doing well-- things are just starting to slow down a touch-- I will be emailing you back soon! Making swag bags is a GREAT idea. Add that to a nice brunch-- I can certainly see why that would be a huge hit!
      Happy holidays to you as well! :D Helen

  4. Great ideas! My Christmas shopping has gone a bit wrong as some things I ordered on the 5th December have not yet arrived and only found out today that they didn't have them in stock (but didn't think to email me) so I am going to have to brave the shops to do some last minute buys, and there I was thinking how organised I had been this year ;)

    1. Hi Clare! I'm glad that you found the post useful. I had been giving some thought to all of the stress associated with preparing for the holidays-- and how the stress often turns otherwise lovely people into thoughtless and uncivilized monsters. I know that many people avoid the malls at all costs-- yet nonetheless need to pick up last minute gifts. Best of luck braving the shops for last minute buys-- perhaps you can find some off the beaten path shops that will prove to be more pleasant and less crowded! I'm so sorry that your online order turned into a bit of a fiasco-- a little communication on behalf of the vendor would have been a considerate way to run a business!!!!!! A good way to lose a customer, though! xoxo


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