Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Holiday Shopping- Simplified

    Fellow soldiers in the pain wars: We need to plan our gift giving strategies.
Who wants to  circle the mall parking lot, vying for that isolated parking space,  fight crowds in stores then stand in long  checkout lines?
    Me, neither. I  like to shop, but increasingly, I'm looking for shortcuts. Being tired and standing for hours wears on me. Here are some tips.

Shop Casually As You Go About Your Day

   Shopping doesn't have to be an official activity - work it into everyday errands.

  • For instance, most large grocery stores have gourmet and organic food sections - everyone likes food gifts. Actually, it's easier at a grocery store to select products for people on a special diet - and there seems to be an awful lot of those these days. For instance, in my immediate circle, I have Mediterranean, low carb, and vegetarian folks.
  • We pick up prescriptions at the pharmacy, which usually offers a gold mine of stuff for older girls - nail polish, perfume, body washes and the like.
  • The big box office supply stores have a lot of cool gift possibilities, they tend to be less busy than retail stores.

Shop Online 

The ultimate in convenience is to shop online. Have the experience go better by doing the following:

  • Be choosy about which online shops you use. While user reviews aren't perfectly reliable, if a particular site has gotten much criticism about its return policy, quality of merchandise or customer service - that's a warning sign. Be careful not to confuse style with quality: after reading the reviews, I've avoided some online shopping sites advertised in higher end magazines. 

  • Be sure that you know that the recipient will really like the item; it's a chore to repackage the gift and take it to the post office. There's nothing wrong with giving your loved one a gift certificate for the online service; you can buy the certificate online and it will be emailed to the recipient.

  • Establish a separate email address for your online purchases. That makes it easy to locate online receipts or tracking.

  • Put a little extra effort into an online  gift to make it seem more personal - follow the gift with a warm phone call to the recipient.

Some good online sites* 

  • - great customer service; be sure to read product reviews before buying

  • - If you use it a lot, think about joining the Amazon Prime Membership ($75 annually) to get free two day shipping, deeply discounted one day shipping  and free streaming movies.

  • - the online shopping site for the mecca of deli and baked goods in Ann Arbor, MIchigan.  Unbelievable - unbelievable - brownies.

  • - Selection is much larger than in the stores; shipping is efficient. Check to make sure recipient can return the item at their local store if necessary.

*Nope, not paid to list these - I just use them a lot.