Christmas (at least in America) has become way over-commercialized. For many people the season seems to be more about buying, giving, and receiving of gifts than celebrating Jesus birth. But whether you enjoy giving the perfect gift to a loved one or consider the traditional exchanging of gifts to be an burdensome societal expectation (or worse), odds are you’re planning to give someone a gift this Christmas.
As of today you’ve got 14 shopping days left before Christmas. And you probably still have some Christmas shopping left to do. (Or all of it if you’re like me.) Shopping online can be a great way to avoid the crowds and long check-out lines as well as a great way to save time and money. Here are 7 tips to help you do just that.
1) Research. Even if you’re still not comfortable enough to send your credit card info through cyberspace, at the very least you can research your Christmas purchases online. Read reviews, select the brand and model you want, find out what stores carry it. That way when you go shopping, you know exactly what you want and you can get in and out of the store ASAP.
2) Ship to your destination. If you’re traveling for Christmas and planning to bring gifts with you, shop online and have the items shipped to the family and friends you’ll be visiting. That will save you the hassle and luggage space of having to take it with you.
3) Check out online discounters. There are a lot of things you can purchase online for well below retail prices. Check out sites like Woot and Overstock. The trick is they don’t always have what you want in stock, so you’ve got to check them regularly and be ready to buy on a moment’s notice.
4) Try eBay. You can find great deals on all kinds of things on eBay. My wife has become an eBay maniac this Christmas season. There are some tricks to winning auctions at the best possible price, which you learn from experience. If you do shop on eBay, pay particular attention to the product description to be sure you are really bidding on what you think you’re bidding on. Also, be sure to check out the sellers ratings to be sure you’re dealing with someone with a good reputation.
5) Give a personalized gift. Got people on your list that are hard to shop for? Give one-of-a-kind personalized gifts like a Christmas ornament with a photo of the grandkids on it, a jersey with the person’s name on the back, or my personal favorite the personalized street sign. (Now all I need is for someone to buy me the Porche). There are a number of sites online where you can order personalized gifts – just type in the name or text you want on the gift or upload a photo. It’s easy and unique. Just search “personalized Christmas gifts.”
6) Manage your Christmas list online. We see a lot of family on Christmas, so this time of year my wife and I are always being asked what we’d like for Christmas and what our 3 children want for Christmas. Usually my wife gives me a list and I give her a list and then we act as each others list managers, giving family members ideas, asking them to let us know what they’re getting for our spouse, and trying to avoid 2 people getting the same gift. If you’re like me, then the idea of an online gift Christmas gift registry may have some appeal. I haven’t used any, so I don’t want to recommend one specifically but you can find several if you search for “online gift list manager.”
7) Give the gift of hope. Many children around the world will get no gifts this Christmas. Many Christian relief organizations like Compassion International have Christmas gift programs. Better yet, begin sponsoring a child.
How much of your Christmas shopping are you doing online this year? Got any more tips?