With the holidays just around the corner, you're probably starting to rack your brain for the perfect gift for everyone on your shopping list. And, since that list can get long—including everyone from parents to kids to cousins to pets—I understand it's hard not to feel overwhelmed. Consider shopping online, as more and more web sites are offering personalized, unique, and practical (and even cheap!) presents all in one place that will leave everyone asking where you found them. Another way to ease the stress is to search for gifts the whole family can enjoy. Not only will this make your list more manageable, but I've found that it can create great bonding experiences—which is just what the holidays should be about!
At RedEnvelope.com you can buy chocolate gourmet gift towers, digital photo key chains, and beaded snowflake coasters. For something family-friendly, consider the personalized photo growth chart. Your kids will have fun tracking their growth, and everyone can help decorate the chart with photos and numbers. Tabblo.com is also great for those who like to have fun with pictures. The photo-sharing site allows you to make your own template of photos and words and share it with other members of the Tabblo community. You can also print your creation, which is an easy and enjoyable way to create holiday cards for friends and neighbors.
SmartBargains and Etsy.com are great for helping you stay within your budget. SmartBargains offers brand-name clothing, home and kitchen, and bed and bath items at affordable prices you probably won't find elsewhere. Etsy is an online marketplace for all things handmade, including furniture, art, clothing, pet toys, jewelry, and unique gadgets and toys. This is a fun site to browse through— you really never know what you might find!
Here are some of my other favorite online retailers:
Charitable Gift Giving
Whether it's by supporting conservation through “adopting” an animal (you don’t really get the animal, but you do get a photo and name of your “pet”), or donating money in exchange for holiday cards (check your local children’s museum for wonderful cards), charitable gift giving is a great way to make a difference. No matter how you choose to go about it, giving to an organization of your choice is a decision both you (and the recipient of your gift) should feel good about.
Take the opportunity to get the whole family involved in charitable donations during the holiday season. Sit down together and brainstorm about what issues are important to you, and find out what the charities or organizations are that support them. There are so many worthy causes out there, but here are a few to get you started:
Lastly, as excited you may be to put your plan into action, proceed with care when making your donation—it's important to ensure that the organization is valuable and worth your efforts. Susan G. Komen for the Cure suggests five questions to ask to make sure your money is going where it should. And once you find an organization you feel confident with, think about making this the start of an ongoing relationship. Your charity can become a holiday tradition, or you can even continue to donate throughout the year.
I hope these tips gave you some gift ideas that are both unique and meaningful. If you have your own thoughts on holiday shopping, please share them with the Care.com community by posting a comment!