It's 2015. We don't have hoverboards. We don't have flying cars. But surely, surely by now we can do all the Christmas shopping without ever leaving the house, right? Yes, we can! Here's how...
1. Start shopping
early NOW. This is absolutely key for shopping online for the holidays. Shipping gifts places takes time, items take time to come (back) in stock, and it definitely takes time to have things custom-made. The last thing you want is for your gifts to arrive late. Get going now.
2. Make a list. Your first job is to make a list of all the people you have to buy for and what you will buy them. You'll come back to check them off when they are purchased, and check them again once they've arrived; this will prevent mixups. No one wants to buy two things for one friend and nothing for another. This is also a great chance to figure out your gift-buying budget.
3. Don't know what to buy? Online wish lists are your friend. Hunt down your friends'/family members' Pinterest pages, Amazon wish lists, and Etsy favorites for easy gift clues. Just make sure they've pinned/wishlist-ed them recently—tastes do change over time.
4. Still don't know? Other gift clues are easily found on the web. No idea what to get your 5-year-old niece? Just Google "toys for a 5-year-old" and you're bound to hit on something. Did you know Apartment Therapy's archives are packed full of awesome gift guides? You can find them using the search box on the top right hand of this page, or click here to browse them all.
5. Before you buy any gift, read its description and reviews carefully. There's nothing worse than ordering a marble cheese platter only to find it's 3 inches long x 5 inches wide. I know it's boring, but before purchasing anything, read all the information available for that item: size, materials, reviews, what it comes with, etc. If there's not enough information listed, post a question or send the store an email.
6. Before purchasing each item, google it to see if there's a better deal or a coupon for a discount. Now we come to the magic of the web: finding the best deal. Don't just assume that Amazon always has the best price all the time, or that Target, Walmart, etc., do. They don't. And many stores often have online coupons available for a discount or free shipping if you search a site like RetailMeNot.
7. Choose to ship the item to your home—or theirs. Depending on time, or where your friend lives, you may want to ship the item directly to their home. This is another brilliant part of online holiday shopping: reducing your need to repost items at the post office. Check to see if your preferred online store does wrapping, gift notes, and gift return slips (Amazon does do all of the above). Some stores will even delay posting until closer to Christmas, but for others you may have to trust that the recipient will wait to open their present until the appropriate day.
8. Mark it off your list when purchased, and mark it off again when it's arrived, and mark it off again once you ship it (if necessary). Just to keep track of it all. That's it. You're done!
Here are a few places I rely on for my online shopping:
- AbeBooks: for secondhand books
- Book Depository: for new books
- Discogs: for every CD and LP your heart desires
- Etsy: for everything handmade
- KIOSK - KIOSK: for fascinating treasures from around the world
- LEIF: for the stylish girly-girl
- CoolStuffInc: for a treasure trove of board games
- ThinkGeek: for the geek in your life
- HOT TOPIC: for the edgy teen
- Fab: for the design nerd
Perhaps you can add your favorite online stores below? Then we can all pour ourselves a glass of wine and get shopping—no mall necessary!