‘Tis the Season to Fill Those Online Shopping Carts…Too Soon?

‘Tis the Season to Fill Those Online Shopping Carts…Too Soon?

If anyone knows me, they also know I’m borderline obnoxious during the holiday season. Every year I tend to be THAT person who puts their Christmas tree up just a little too early. I’m going to attempt to restrain on this year and put it up AFTER Thanksgiving. I’ll let you know how that goes. I truly become the female version of Will Ferrell in Elf.

To distract myself from prematurely turning my home into a winter wonderland, I’ve done a little research on holiday shopping and the swing into purchasing gifts online. I’ve put together a few ideas and tools to help you brainstorm for your holiday shopping. Whether you hit the stores on Black Friday, stay in your pajamas to shop on Cyber Monday, or feverishly run to the mall a few days before Christmas, we’ve hopefully got a few suggestions to help you out.

Online Shopping

Let’s start with the cyber world. It’s where I shop. I live in the mountains now. The UPS and FedEx delivery workers are my new best friends. Don’t laugh, it’s true. Amazon is expecting to hire 70,000 full-time workers for the holidays. The Wall Street Journal announced that FedEx is expecting to ship 22 million packages on Cyber Monday. Online shopping is booming, whether you live in the Green Mountains or a much more populated city.

That being said, here are a few great stores you may or may not be aware of. They are either stores only based on the internet, stores that have improved the user experience to make online shopping easier, or random stores I just happen to think are cool.

  • ModCloth – They made the list for a few reasons. They are a pretty cool online retailer. It’s affordable fashion and they continue to make adjustments to their user experience. The have a mobile app, they expanded their shopping experience to Android, and I love how they utilize social marketing in a big way. Here is the final kicker about this vintage-inspired shop, their new “Fit for Me” feature. It allows shoppers to feel confident about how the clothes will fit, utilizing data provided by their past customers. Buyers provide numerous reviews of the items they bought including detailed measurements. Their hope is that this new feature will instill confidence in purchasing as well as a decrease in their return rate. It’s worth taking a look. www.modcloth.com
  • Indochino – This site screams modern gentlemen, and they have found their success in a variety of approaches without having a permanent storefront. To me, they are the leader in online quality menswear. Their focus is hand tailored products delivered to any part of the world within 4 weeks. The user experience is fantastic because it allows you to choose your style, customize your suit, and get measured online. Visit the site, you’ll love it. My favorite part is the 40 character monogramming. It’s like tweeting on a suit (with 100 less characters to work with). Put your favorite quote inside the suit, the customizing is free. www.indochino.com
  • CoolMaterial – This website pulls really unique gifts from all over the internet under one roof. When you’re out of ideas on what to get, stop here. Where else can you get gift ideas like a skull ice cube mold, a Ron Burgundy Action figure, and a guide to Urban Moonshing? I would’ve never thought any of those gifts existed. And now I want to buy all of them and figure out who to give them to after my purchase. The site will inspire you to think outside the box. www.coolmaterial.com

Gift Exchanges

Whether it’s family, friends or co-workers, you usually run into that tough scenario of “what on earth do I get this person?” Whether it be a $25 co-worker gift exchange, a $50 family gift exchange or maybe some random neighborhood holiday party you have to go to and bring a white elephant gift for under $10…here are a few ideas to help you conquer the exchange!

  • Elfster – We use this website with my family. All of my siblings live across the country. Christmas is sometimes the only holiday we are lucky enough to be together. That being said, use Elfster.com to organize your gift exchange. It draws names after everyone has signed up via email. It has specific settings you can adjust (i.e. rules so that you don’t draw your spouse or the person you had the year before, etc.). It lets you set limits on the exchange and build wish lists. It’s really ideal if your family is anything like mine and lives so far away from each other. The old “pulling a name out of the hat” for who you got in this year’s exchange has now been replaced by the same concept online. www.elfster.com
  • ThinkGeek – I love this store for your random, nerdy, amazing gifts. You can shop for a coworker, friend or find the perfect white elephant gift here. I mean, if I have to bring a gift under $10 to my next ugly sweater party – It’s going to be a tough toss up on what to bring. Canned Dragon Meat, Bacon Flavored Popcorn or Superhero Caped Socks. Not a typo – actual socks with capes on them. The Bacon Flavored Popcorn is actually out of stock, but you get where I’m going with this. www.thinkgeek.com
  • Uncommon Goods – A scaled back, more thoughtful version of some of the earlier sites we have discussed. The best part about this site, you can knock out your entire list of holiday gift needs here if you truly wanted. For him, for her, for kids, for entertaining, etc. There is something for everyone on your list here. The shopper experience is organized with simple navigation. Sort by the person, the cost, their interests. If I need a gift for a new mom, a grillmaster, a wine enthusiast and a teenage girl, this is the place to be. www.uncommongoods.com

Black Friday and Cyber Monday and…Grey Thursday?

What do these days even mean? It used to just be Black Friday. A day full of holiday sales and deep discounts that fell on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Cyber Monday entered our world when the concept of internet shopping began to steal the spotlight back in 2005. It is known for the Monday after Thanksgiving. But now, is there even chaos on Black Friday if it’s being spread into Thanksgiving (or what they are affectionately calling Grey Thursday)? Many stores are now beginning their sales and opening up their stores on Thanksgiving. SAY WHAT? After I eat my turkey, I just want to take a nap.

But it’s not just Thanksgiving day sales. Holiday shopping season has virtually begun already. Wal-Mart, Target and numerous other big players are hitting shoppers early. To some degree, it’s brilliant. People like to spread their shopping over a few months vs. a few weeks. (or a few days if you’re the ultimate last minute buyer). Some people love it, others think its slightly frustrating to have the holiday insanity come earlier each year. Regardless of how you feel, here are a few stores that may be opening on Thanksgiving Day (some all day, some in the evening and some at midnight):

  • Macy’s
  • J.C. Penney
  • Kohl’s
  • Toys R Us
  • Target
  • Old Navy
  • Best Buy
  • Kmart
  • Walmart

Keep in mind this list is subject to change for any of the stores. More details will be announced in the next few weeks. Does this take away from Thanksgiving? Or is it just an economy where we want the best deal available, regardless of the day we can get it? Thrifty shopping or a loss of the true meaning of the holidays? Clearly, I don’t have the answer for you. But I sincerely hope a few of these sites you will find resourceful. Regardless of when or how you do your shopping.

Keep in mind that creativity is always best! And that doesn’t mean you have to BUY a creative gift. You could always make one! You’d be amazed at the DIY ideas you can come up with yourself. Who doesn’t love a gift made with love from scratch?

Get your inspiration from Pinterest and Etsy. It’s where I go. And if you find something you love that you don’t think you can make – just buy that gift from an Etsy store! Supporting small businesses and the Etsy entrepreneur is always fun and feels more thoughtful and personal when you deliver the present to that special someone.

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