Holiday Shopping: Gift Tips and Online Shopping Sites for Wish List Fulfillment
Whether you’re trying to make Santa look good with the best Christmas presents, collecting eight nights worth of Hanukkah gifts or searching for the perfect token to commemorate the Winter Solstice, the holiday shopping frenzy may put a damper on your gift giving cheer. Fortunately, you have access to numerous Web sites that can expedite your holiday shopping experience. Visit sites that can help you choose the perfect gift (and return the less-than-perfect ones), try out alternative gift options, gather tips for surviving Black Friday and get the low-down on shopping online.
If you’ve ever been in a mall on the day after Thanksgiving, you probably think the name “Black Friday” was devised to describe your mood while hunting for holiday gifts. Actually, the term reflects the theory that businesses will have enough sales to push them out of the red and into the black. Share that feeling of success by taking the right approach to the holiday shopping experience. Let the sites below steer you toward a more cheerful season with easy holiday shopping tips.
- If you’re a really organized person, the best way to avoid the holiday shopping craze is to do it in bits throughout the year. Just don’t forget where in the closet you hid your items.
- At this time of year, charitable gifts and donations are a popular choice. To learn more about these options, see the “Charitable Gifts” section of this Web guide.
For surviving Black Friday …
offers a short guide to surviving Black Friday. Look for advice on saving money and time, and a few precautions about things that might not have occurred to you, such as restocking fees.
suggests 10 tips for making Black Friday more pleasant. Learn how to distinguish between “a deal and a dud,” and why it may be to your benefit to make friends while waiting in the checkout line.
For shopping online …
, home of "Good Morning America," features technology correspondent Becky Worley as she reveals techniques for smooth and successful holiday shopping online. Read descriptions of various types of sites and stores, and pay attention to hints about shipping and credit card safety.
has a list of niche sites with holiday gifts that might appeal to someone whose interests are a little off the beaten path. These are smaller, lesser-known sites with items such as antique collectibles, hard-to-find place settings, vintage movie posters, celebrity autographs and rare books.
For bargains …
has an entire page devoted to holiday shopping. Throughout the year, the company significantly discounts name brand items that have been overstocked. Browse gifts by price, category or by person, or take a look at the “Top 12 Gift Searches” for even more ideas.
teaches you how to organize a white elephant gift-giving party. Save money and have fun by exchanging old gifts with friends instead of buying new ones.
For an alternative to shopping …
Buy Nothing Christmas
is a Mennonite initiative to de-commercialize Christmas. Although the site’s FAQ promises you can still become a member if you engage in a little holiday shopping, the focus of the group is to get “people to recognize problems (North American over-consumption),” not gift giving.
The BBC monitors h2g2, a user-generated encyclopedia that offers some quite amusing rules of Christmas shopping. You’ll have to interpret a few British phrases but the gist is: Whatever can go wrong, will—so have a laugh in advance.
You may be good at pretending to like that sweater your great aunt gave you, but are you good at convincing the salesperson to let you exchange it for one that you might actually wear in public? Returning gifts can be tricky, but whether you’re the giver or the receiver, the sites below can help you find ways to make smooth exchanges that leave everyone (including the retailer) satisfied.
- When shopping online, you must read the fine print. That’s where you’ll locate the information you really need regarding gift returns, such as whether there’s a hidden restocking fee.
- Make sure to note how many days a store allows for returning gifts. If you purchase a gift in advance of an event, it may be unreturnable by the time it’s unwrapped.
explains that while purchasing gifts online is significantly easier than bricks-and-mortar shopping, the returns can be a bit trickier. The remedy: “6 tips for returning e-gifts.” Investigate the pitfalls you might encounter and the solutions to employ when gift shopping online.
The Boston Globe
offers “Tips on ensuring many happy returns,” courtesy of Edgar Dworksy, founder of Consumerworld.org
. He emphasizes the importance of a receipt when you return an item, even if it’s a gift. To facilitate easy returns, include a gift receipt in the box. He also demystifies a few stores’ return policies, and warns about the possibility of restocking fees.
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