We Are Both Right

Note to Santa: Try Online Holiday Shopping, You’ll Like It

I for one will be sleeping soundly through the shopping frenzy this Black Friday, snuggled under my down comforter with visions of the UPS driver in my head.

Maybe once the turkey coma has worn off, I might log on while still in my PJs and browse the sales on the web. But I’m not worried if I don’t get to it then, since there’s always Cyber Monday, and the progressively better deals that pop up as the holidays near. Because for me, online holiday shopping is the civilized and only route to filling my family’s Christmas stockings with cheer.

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I didn’t always feel that way. Up until last year I did most of my Christmas shopping on-site in stores, thinking that the holiday spirit would elude me if I wasn’t inspired by the buzz of the crowd and visual overload of giant ornaments dangling from above. I even fought through the mall-induced hot flashes (or maybe it was the Abercrombie models) that had me convinced I was going through early menopause.

The freestanding Toys”R”Us, Target, and Macy’s near home were my go-to stores. And when it was time to round up the kids’ gifts, my husband and I would drop them off at my parent’s house while we swept through the toy store checking off their lists. Then, we’d hide it all under a tarp in the back of our minivan and smuggle it into the garage, and ultimately the attic.

Now my slippers and a fleece jacket get me in the mood, as I work by the glow of my computer monitor to ferret out deals, combine coupon codes, and track my acquisitions on a Google docs list (triple password-protected and written in French to ward off any eight-year-old hackers that might be lurking).

The best part about online holiday shopping is that I can avoid the now-or-never high-pressured experience of shopping with children in tow. No more long lines with retractable stanchions that are irresistible to three-year-old hands. And forget getting in and out of the car (and carseats) in the cold to go into multiple stores. Instead, I arrive home after work and a pile of brown boxes are waiting at my doorstep. Hurl them up into the attic, and no one (including my husband) is the wiser.

Shopping has definitely become easier (and chock full of new options) with the whole world wide web at my fingertips. Last year, the elusive Yo Gabba Gabba t-shirt and underwear my daughter had to have — only available at Bell’s in Florida — was mine in two clicks. Riding high the same night, I applied an e-mail coupon my husband got from the NBA Store online to score a bunch of online-only deals for the jersey, sneakers, and banner our son had on his wish list. Not to mention the seven-foot Kevin Garnett growth chart I spied on clearance, which turned out to be one of his favorite gifts.

I even discovered the joy of worry-free packaging, where you save a few dollars if you opt for toys shipped in plain brown boxes instead of the packaging you usually see on store shelves. The ultimate bonus: no industrial strength twists ties every two inches along the arms and legs of a doll your two-year-old can’t wait to get her hands on. I don’t know who was more excited on Christmas morning, me or her!

So it’s online holiday shopping for me all the way this year — or as far as free shipping can take me.

What’s your plan for holiday shopping?

Ghost of Christmas Presents – Mall Holiday Shopping

When my now-husband T. and I were dating, we spent an inordinate amount of our time at shopping malls. We would eat, we would wander — sometimes we would even shop (and, I must add shamefully, spend money without a worry nor care nor child).

These days I try to avoid the mall as much as possible — with three kids it has become less of a fun hangout spot where I might pick up a cute sweater and more of a “We Gotta Get Out of This Place”  were I might lose my marbles.

© RobinUtrac/stock.xchng

© RobinUtrac/stock.xchng

Still, for me, when it comes to picking out Christmas gifts for my loved ones, it’s at the mall or other brick-and-mortar stores where you’ll find me. I know lots of holiday shopping can be done online, but for all my lack of enthusiasm about trying to find a parking spot and the lines and the pushing, I much prefer physically heading out of the house to do my purchasing than sitting in front of my computer to do it.

I think its the idea of holiday shopping at a store that I like so much. The romantic notion of a day spent in and out of stores, dedicating quality time to choosing gifts I know my family and friends will love. (Why yes, I am humming Christmas carols while I type this.)

I like being part of a crowd, especially as it gets closer to Christmas. (When I was in high school and college, my friends and I would purposefully go shopping on Christmas Eve, even if we didn’t have anything to buy just to soak up the atmosphere).  I like the festive decorations and music. I like watching the kids take pictures with Santa Claus. And even though some  of my fellow gatherers are cranky and annoying, there’s a definite undercurrent at the store that you don’t feel when you are clicking the mouse — a building excitement that we are all sharing in together.

Plus, I like being able to pick something up and feeling it in my hands. I like wandering around with lots of different bags from lots of different stores and bustling through the throngs as I figure out what I need to get next. I like rifling through my coupons, trying to figure out where I will get the best buy. And when I’m undecided on a gift, for me, nothing beats browsing (obviously that’s one I do without the children). The best part is when I get home and I sort through the parcels, happily reviewing my conquests.

Now don’t get me wrong, I agree, online shopping is way more convenient. And if you can get free shipping (and I only shop online when I get free shipping), it can be less expensive than driving yourself to the local Target or Kohl’s. But it isn’t the same.

Not when Santa is handing out candy canes.