Guys, in case you didn’t know, I’m an avid shopper. I love all things bookish, but I also love all things pretty, whimsical, and fun. And above all? I love shopping for other people, especially during the holidays. I pride myself on getting the perfect gifts and on finishing most of my holiday shopping in 1-2 days.
WHATWHYHOWWHERE, you say? Well, I’m here to share my secrets for you to enjoy the holiday shopping, stress and burnout free.
Over the next few days (or weeks, depending on how fast I get it done!), I’ll be sharing a few different ideas for how to shop during the holidays without losing your mind, gifts for tough-to-buy-for friends and family, and, of course, a bookish gift guide.
Everything I’m recommending is something I’ve done several times, I’ve either given and gotten good results on, or I’ve checked out myself and really like. I got you covered, guys!
Today’s post is the first in my holiday shopping guide: tips on how to shop without wanting to hurt someone!
Don’t buy clothes or shoes for anyone other than your closest people
(Accessories are okay)
Ah, the clothes and shoes debate, when your in-laws or cousins tell you they desperately need long sweaters, or the perfect jeans, or just the right pair of black heels and then you attempt to shop with their fit, style, and size in mind. Guess what? IT DOESN’T WORK. The person will probably fawn over it, then throw it in the back of his/her dresser or return it (which is fine, but what was the point, then?). I’ve learned to just not go there unless it’s a) your bff who knows you like the back of your hand and vice-versa b) your immediate family, who desperately need clothes (aka your sister, mom, or dad who expect clothes from you every year and can be honest).
If you must buy something clothing or accessory related, go with something that’s generic and will always fit, like socks, jewelry, or purses, and MAKE SURE IT’S RETURNABLE.
Stay away from the expertise gift, but go with something expertise-adjacent
If someone is, ahem, a YA book lover, do not buy them a YA book (unless you are also a YA expert, then you can go ahead because you’ll know what they do and don’t have, etc). Similarly, if someone is a geography professor or a baking expert, and you are not, don’t try and get them a map or the perfect pan. Chances are, that person already has the perfect thing in mind, and you’ll either end up choosing something that’s not quite right. Instead, go with something RELATED to the expertise, like, a recipe holder for the baker, or special bookmarks for the YA lover, or a book about explorers for the geography prof. Super-thoughtful, creative, and probably something they don’t already have!
Unless someone asks for a specific thing, avoid the mall at all costs.
There’s nothing I hate more than the mall during the holiday season. I hate the crowds and fighting over something. The worst way to get in the holiday spirit is going to the mall or a big-box store. And honestly, do you really need that Aritzia or Gap sweater that five other people are going to have?
At this point in the game, everyone knows to do this with Amazon, Indigo, Etsy, Society6, and countless other sites. This is a great way to avoid line-ups and other in-person shopping, especially if you’re looking for something one-of-a-kind. Online only stores don’t have the same costs for rent, so you can usually get things a bit cheaper. And to me, there’s nothing more happy-making during the holidays than browsing the online stores for your local bookstores or shops with a mug of hot chocolate and the music that YOU like playing in the background. Just watch out for those shipping and customs fees!
If you must shop in person, shop local and shop fairs
Not only will you get amazing stuff that you’ll never find in the mall, but you’ll also get ideas for other stuff, and you’ll be contributing directly to an artist’s wallet. And unless you literally live in butt-f***-nowhere (which happens, I know!), you can probably catch a craft fair or Christmas show or two in order to get stuff. Evan and I always do one big blast at the One of a Kind Show here in Toronto – we’ve honed it down to four hours with a list, and we usually get almost everything we need.
Subscriptions are your best friends
I can’t tell you how much subscriptions to “of-the-month” clubs are appreciated or I’ve enjoyed in the past – it’s just the perfect gift that keeps on giving. Sock-of-the-month clubs have worked incredibly well with the men in my life (and might work for women, too) – a couple I like and have used include SockClub.com, Socking Behaviour. I’ve been gifted a Birchbox (cosmetic samples) before, and I’ve adored it. Obviously there are tons of book-of-the-month and fandom clubs out there like OwlCrate, Uppercase Box, Fandom of the Month, and LootCrate. Basically, whatever you can think of, it exists, and I’m telling you, people LOVE them.
Cookie swaps are your second best friends
For the last few years, I’ve been doing Christmas/holiday baking with my friends and family where we swap out a couple different kinds of cookies. Not only is this GLORIOUS for any holiday hosting, but the variety makes a great gift for almost anyone. If you’re going to bake for the holidays anyway, why kill yourself? Have a cookie swap party, or just arrange to exchange, then freeze the cookies for your next gifts!
Generic hostess gifts are your third best friends (Stock up!)
I always keep a stash of wine, cheese, and cool dishtowels (as well as cookies) in my cupboard for last minute holiday parties, or for if your party needs a boost. This is especially helpful during the holidays, when you often need something in a pinch because you’re getting taken to a random party or you’ve forgotten something!
Be gracious and grateful
This one sounds obvious, but sometimes we all get a little caught up in the holidays and gifting. Just remember – whatever you’ve given or gotten, it’s a gift. You’re lucky to be able to share gifts with loved ones and show your appreciation. So, be kind to others while shopping, and even if you end up with things that aren’t perfect, just be happy that you’re doing it with people you care about.
What are your tips for getting through the holidays? Got any especially good presents or ideas? Hit the comments and let me know. And stay tuned for Part 2: Gift Ideas for Tough-To-Shop-For People and Part 3: Books for Everyone on Your Holiday List!