I, like most of my friends and family, don't have as much money for Christmas shopping as I have had in years past, and so over the past few years I've tried to develop a system to make Christmas shopping easier and cheaper without losing my mind (there are those that would argue my mind was lost years ago, but for the purposes of my blog here let's pretend that isn't the case). Apparently, with the entire country struggling to make ends meet, holiday budgets are a huge topic of conversation everywhere, whether it be on Shine (Yahoo's Lifestyle section) or in magazines with their ever popular Holiday Gift Guides. I particularly found Glamour's Slaves To Fashion's article Holiday Shopping On A Budget: An Almost But Not Quite Scientific Plan Of Attack of interest (so much so that I was the first person to comment on it). Which got me wondering… with the Internet, how has holiday shopping changed?
When we were kids, my mom used to plop my brother and I down with the Christmas Wish Book from Sears and JcPenney (remember when both stores used to send your parents the 300+ Christmas catalog?). Armed with colored Sharpies, each of us paged through the catalogs circling our innermost Christmas desires. Unfortunately by the time my little sister came along, the Christmas catalog from Sears was a thing of the past and JcPenney's catalog was only a shadow of its former glory. Thankfully Toys R Us had caught on and released their wish book the weekend before Thanksgiving.
Ten years ago when I first moved to Chicago, I was all about individuality. I walked up and down the Magnificent Mile (Michigan Avenue), dragging my boyfriend along looking for that perfect gift for each of the twenty-five people on our list. Fast forward five years to 2005 when I was doing half my shopping online and shipping it to my mom's to save the hassle of packing and unpacking the car in between Chicago and Detroit.
Nowadays, it's give or take. With the exception of two, possibly three gifts, everything I bought this year was purchased online. I comparison shopped between the discount stores (Target, Walmart, etc.) and the bookstores and still found Amazon to be the cheapest for the gifts I bought for my parents, grandpa, and sister. It was actually cheaper to buy my friend Liz's gift online since the store had a web-only sale going on with free S&H even though there's a brick and mortar within 10 miles of my house. Thanks to a $15 gift "card" I received via email, my friend Mary's gift got upgraded to a better version of what I had intended to purchase and I got the benefit of not only free S&H, but a little something for myself.
Some years I've done all of my Christmas shopping based on available balance of my store credit cards (hello Macy's and Kohl's). Other years I've done all of my shopping at TJMaxx or Marshall's. And sometimes it's just a matter of what my yearly theme is, whether it's bath and beauty products (Body Shop or the ever popular Bath & Body Works), or day by day calendars with a mug (a combination of Barnes and Noble and coffee shops around the neighborhood).
Next year though I've already decided to do my Christmas shopping handmade. Thank goodness for Etsy. And the web too, of course.