Holiday Shopping Linkstravaganza
By Mermaid Noir on December 14, 2011
Christmas is only 11 days away. I'm one of those people who plans for Christmas all year round (making little notes when someone casually mentions something they'd love to have) but procrastinates when it comes to actually pulling the trigger... er, buying presents. Obviously no matter how much I'd like to get some people a bullet to the head (I should probably just stop writing now) I'm not shooting anyone for the holidays. So, now that things between you and me are as weird as they can get, let me share some of the places I like to shop around on the web for gifts!
1. Deal Sites. In the months leading up to Christmas I keep an eye on the deals coming my way from places like Rue La La (personal fave - I always hold out for their Betsey Johnson sales), Gilt, Fab, Groupon, and LivingSocial. Can you tell I do a lot of my Christmas shopping from my email inbox?
This Christmas I'm giving my mom a bound book of pictures I took on our fall vacation to the Keys. I snagged a Groupon that only cost me $15 for $50 worth of merchandise at Mixbook. I had to put in the time and effort to create the book (and take the pictures on our trip, obviously), but the final cost to me is only $20 - the original $15 I spent on the Groupon and about $5 shipping. Not bad for something original that she'll love looking back at for years to come. Lord knows I wasn't going to buy her anymore of that tacky fat chef stuff she's decorating the kitchen with now.
Even if the exact deal isn't what I want, I often get inspiration from them. For example, this year I decided to take my boyfriend on a weekend getaway for his birthday. I saw a Snique Away deal for a weekend in an (can we talk about how much I hate having to put "an" before words that don't really start with vowels?) historic hotel in Savannah, Georgia. While that's definitely within weekend-trip distance for us (we're in Central Florida), I wanted to take him somewhere he'd be more interested in. I ended up booking a stay in St. Augustine and he loved it. I might not have considered somewhere like that if it hadn't been for good ol' Snique Away.
2. Threadless. Maybe it's because I'm a college student, but I can always find something for my friends at Threadless. I got my boyfriend the Loch Ness Imposter shirt two years ago as a part of his Christmas gift and he loved it so much that I made it a tradition. Every holiday now includes one of their shirts (and tacky boxer briefs, but that's a story for another time). I almost always end up snagging one for myself when I order gifts from Threadless because there are so many fun designs and they're always having sales. Last year I couldn't resist getting this shirt for myself and this year I ended up with this one. I'm waiting for it to get here so I can publicly assert my status as a Future Crazy Cat Lady. Another cool thing about Threadless is that if you upload a picture of yourself wearing one of their shirts to their website they'll give you a $1.50 credit. It's not a free shirt, but it's great for someone like me who orders from them relatively regularly. Always search the web for coupons before you order (I usually get mine here) because if they're not having a sale then they're definitely offering a coupon.
3. ThinkGeek. I will be the first to admit that ThinkGeek doesn't always have the lowest prices, but their merchandise is so unique and fun that I usually use it for inspiration for DIY gifts even if I don't buy the real thing from them. They do have a section for Gifts Under $50, $25, and $10, so it's not impossible to find something worthwhile, but it's easy to spend way more than you meant to on this site... especially when your friends are as nerdy as mine. I can't find a link to the grow-your-own-flower-thingy-from-Mario or the Resident Evil T-Virus Antidote energy drink that I bought for one of my friends last year, but some of the purchases I'm considering this year are this set of art nouveau-style Firefly posters (which, if you ask me, are awesome), Bacon Salt as a stocking stuffer for my boyfriend (who is addicted to both bacon and salt and I'm pretty sure would literally flip his shit if he got it), and the Time Travelers' Handbook. I'm also going to be DIYing a Minecraft creeper onesie like this one, so thanks for the inspiration ThinkGeek!
4. Etsy. I. Love. Etsy. Support local (or not so local) creators and purchase one-of-a-kind gifts. I can always find something in my price range, so it's a win-win. They also have this really awesome feature where you sign into Etsy with your Facebook account (don't worry, they never post anything annoying on your wall for you and they don't access your information unlike a lot of other intrusive sites) and it uses your friends likes to give you gift recommendations. It's literally the coolest thing ever. Click here to see some of their recommendations to me. It takes all the guess work out of shopping for presents. If that still isn't enough of a push for you, some of my favorite Etsy stores are imyourpresent (for cute, girly handmade clothes and accessories - I bought a cameo necklace with a cat silhouette on it and she was an absolute peach to buy from and even threw in an extra gift), AngelaFriedman (for gorgeous handmade lingerie that I wish I could afford - MAY BE NSFW), alexandragrecco (for vintage finds), truche (for thoughtful state-related jewelry), and mamaroots (for charming stationery). I have a never-ending list of favorites on Etsy, so those are just some of the highlights that would totally be helpful hints for anyone looking to buy me something, haha.
5. PriceGrabber. I know, I know, this isn't technically a website to buy things from, but it's so useful I had to include it! For example, once I made the decision to buy the Time Travelers' Handbook from ThinkGeek, I checked PriceGrabber first to make sure I couldn't get it anywhere else cheaper. Sure enough, I can save some $$ by purchasing it new on Amazon and getting free shipping. Another cool thing about PriceGrabber is that they offer $5 rebates when you leave reviews for certain products. When I first started using comparison shopping sites I went back and forth between PriceGrabber, NexTag, and BizRate and PriceGrabber gave me the best price pretty much every time so now they're my go to site. If I'm making a huge purchase I'll check several sites, but for gifts $50 and under it's pretty much guaranteed I'll find the best price on PriceGrabber. I love not having to bother checking sites like Target, Walmart, and Amazon individually. If you already know what you want to get everyone for the holidays (or you checked the other sites first to get inspiration, like me!) this can be a huge time and money saver for you.
So that's it! Those are my main recommendations for those of you who still haven't quite gotten all of your Christmas shopping done yet this year. Maybe next year I'll pick some sites that don't have white backgrounds that blend in with mine, hah. I'm always looking out for new sites myself so feel free to let me know what your favorite online sources are!
I would think this would be obvious but just in case it isn't, I wasn't paid or otherwise rewarded in any way by any of the companies/websites on this post. I regularly use these sites and haven't included any sites that I haven't personally had a good experience with. If you're compelled to use one of the links I recommend to you in this post please consider using my referral link (if one is available) to sign up. I get a little kickback and in a lot of cases (like Fab and Rue La La) you get some sort of additional credit that you wouldn't get if you just signed up without a referral. I'm just a college student trying to pull Christmas together while getting insanely distracted by the fact that I leave to study abroad in 34 DAYS who welcomes any gift inspiration she can get and figured some of you might too!