Get Hopping on Holiday Shopping


With Christmas and other holidays right around the corner, gift shopping is high on my to-do list. For me, the more I can accomplish online – and the more I can avoid crazed crowds at shopping centers – the better. If you’re in the same boat, I might have an idea or two for you.

I consider myself a bit of a online shopping connoisseur. (Jeff does not appreciate my talent so much.) For instance, when I need cleaning supplies, makeup, cereal, etc., I skip the trips to Target and opt for easy-peasy deliveries on my doorstep. I feel oh-so-efficient when I spend a Saturday or Sunday watching football and accomplishing the majority of our non-fresh-food shopping in one fell swoop.,,, and, of course, are gold mines for gifts., airline frequent flier shops like Delta Skymiles Shopping, or even college savings site pay cash, miles or tuition money for online purchases at a bunch of sites

My credit card gets a workout, not surprisingly. Thankfully, I earn airline miles with that, too.

Here are some online gift-giving ideas I’ve used, most of which I’ve also gifted to me. And yes, there’s a definite Portland vibe throughout.

Subscriptions for monthly samples of beauty products, health and wellness goodies, or just about anything.
I’ve been a Birchbox girl since I read about its Harvard Biz School-student founders a few years ago. Every month, an adorable box of beauty and lifestyle samples (nail polish, candy bars, face lotion, hair supplies, makeup, etc.) arrives in my mailbox. There are plenty of other subscriptions of happy monthly deliveries. My friend, Nena, introduced me to Ipsy, a brand similar to Birchbox. There’s also Sample SocietyKLUTCHclub offers health and wellness products. Celebs design monthly Fancy Box subscriptions of food, home goods and other products. And there are a million others.

Handmade jewelry from the City of Roses
Portland boasts some fab jewelry designers. A Betsy & Iya shop – its one and only brick and mortar store – popped up in our Northwest neighborhood, and it’s quickly become one of my favorite places. Their bridge cuff bracelets seem to be a fave around here. TWIST is another local jewelry store with an amazing in-store (and online) selection. I’ve also admired baubles from Favor Jewelry and Harlow at events like the Portland Bazaar (coming Dec. 6-8) and Willamette Week‘s Holiday Marketplace.

Fragrance sample packs
It’s hard to choose a trademark scent. Sephora makes the process painless with a 14-sample fragrance sampler for her and for him. Each pack includes a certificate to turn in for a full-sized bottle of the scent you like best.

Mind-blowing coffee and teas
I’m no coffee drinker, but Jeff is in whole bean heaven here in the Pacific Northwest. Portland is arguably one of the best cities in the country for coffee. (See some of our coffee adventures in December 2011.) Stumptown Coffee Roasters is one of the most famous local names, but there are a million others: Coava, BARISTA, Heart Roasters, Water Avenue Coffee, Sterling Coffee Roasters…you pretty much can’t go wrong with anything around here. Jeff is also a big fan of Turkey Trot from Colectivo Coffee, a Milwaukee-based company where our family friend Scott works.

For tea fans, Steven Smith Teamaker – the founder of Tazo, which Starbucks bought in 1999 – has some great variety packs of full leaf teas and varietals.

Customized kicks
I’d be remiss if I don’t mention my favorite brand, the Swoosh. Choose the colors, materials, and personalized messages for golf shoes, baby booties, running shoes, soccer boots and more with NIKEiD. Converse offers a similar design-your-own option (and who doesn’t love Chucks?).

Food…delicious food
I’ve developed a special liking for Bob’s Red Mill, a local employee-owned company that churns out 400+ products of whole grain and gluten free goodness – and some nice gift packs. I regularly drool over Ann Arbor-based Zingerman’s gift ideas like the Ultimate Brownie Sampler, Kitchen Starter Kit, Bacon Club…mmm….and then there’s the salami bouquet from Portland meat maestros Olympic Provisions. The PB lover in me can’t resist the gift assortments of The Bee’s Knees honey peanut butter and White Chocolate Dreams from Peanut Butter & Co. And the Fleur de Sel Caramels from Seattle’s Jonboy Caramels are some of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth. (I could go on and on here.)

Help someone less fortunate
In a season that focuses so much on flashy gifts, it’s good to remember there are people who have next to nothing to their names. A gift card from online micro-lending platform Kiva gives the recipient the opportunity to choose an entrepreneur around the world to support. Lend $50 to a woman in the Philippines to help her start a pig-raising business. Lend $25 to help a man in Bolivia start a farm. When the micro-loans are repaid, use the funds again and again to make more loans on Kiva. Pretty cool, right?

Every ornament you could dream of
Bronner’s in Frankenmuth, Mich., is a Christmas paradise. Open year-round, the store overflows with 50,000 trims and gifts and covers the space of one and a half football fields. It’s massive. And amazing. If you need an obscure ornament of a Clemson University hoodie (I’m looking at you, Kristen), Bronner’s has it. They also have a boatload of personalized ornaments and other gifts for nearly everyone on a holiday shopping list.

Anyone else have some go-to online shops for holiday shopping? I’m always in need of new ideas. For instance, where’d you get those cool photo-personalized stone magnets, Lindsay and Daniel?

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