Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? If not, don’t fret. Here are our top tips and five places to get Christmas shopping done in a snap.
General rules for great gifts, easy:
- Make a list in advance. Write down all the people you want to buy a gift for, a budget per gift, and any ideas you have for them. If you know what you want you’ll spend less time wandering from store to store looking for “inspiration.”
- Use the Internet. I regularly think of fun, random ideas for my husband and google them. In most cases, somebody sells my idea and I can order it online and get it shipped right to my door.
- Edible gifts are always good. If I’m really stuck on ideas, I usually get something edible. Really, who doesn’t like a box of nice chocolates, cookies, or a box of tea? Just make sure you go somewhere special. No to Pot of Gold Chocolates, yes to Thomas Haas Chocolates, for example.
- Shop in the morning or evening. Christmas crowds are building, but avoid the them by shoping when there is less traffic. Go when stores first open in the morning, or later in the evening before they close (7:30pm is good for malls). Shopping quickly is difficult when there’s a 30 min. line-up to pay.
- Ask for help. If you go to the right store (in my mind, local, small businesses), ask for ideas from the storekeepers. If you’re at a small business you’re often talking to the owner of the store, who is likely an expert in whatever they sell.
- If you are really desperate – gift cards. If you find yourself on Christmas Eve with no gifts, the world of gift cards can be your savior. They’re not creative, but people like ’em. I like getting itunes gift cards as it opens up the options for what somebody can buy. 7-11 (open all the time!) now carries a great selection of gift cards.
But, please do some shopping in advance! Here are our five picks for great, all around great gift finds:
1. Chapters/Indigo, Kidsbooks, Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks – I love buying books for people. They are thoughtful gifts while still being easy to order, wrap, and give. Chapters/Indigo is of course a great source for all books (plus baby gifts, home decor, and cute things) and you can get a big chunk of your shopping list done on their website. However, if you have time, check out the local specialty bookstores. Kidsbooks on Broadway has an amazing selection of books and toys with a helpful staff. Similarly, Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks is a food lover’s heaven, stocked with every specialty cookbook imaginable.
2. Dilly Dally Toys – While there are many excellent toy stores in town, Dilly Dally on Commercial Drive is the one I love visiting over and over. It’s stocked high with amazing wooden toys for all ages. Even their business cards are designed for play! You can get gifts for all the kids (and a few adults) on your list here. The only drawback is that Dilly Dally does not have an online store. If you’re looking to shop online, I’ve been loving the wood toys at Pebble Baby lately.
3. The Regional Assembly of Text – If you’re looking for some beautiful, thoughtful gifts that won’t break the bank, check out this local stationary and gift store on Main St. The Regional Assembly of Text makes their gorgeous stationary and cards in Vancouver and celebrates the institution of letter writing and all things text-based. They also have a button-making station, and extensive stamp selection, and unique prints for tea towels, t-shirts, and onesies. There’s even a teeny kids section. Again, you’ll get multiple gifts in one stop at this charming store.
4. Williams-Sonoma – While this is a U.S. Chain (and I do love and recommend local shops Ming Wo and Cookworks), the thing about Williams-Sonoma is just how many silly things they have. Star Wars shaped cookie cutters and cake pans. 12 kinds of hot chocolate. Strange but kitschy kitchen gadgets. If you want to go for something you know your gift recipient would never buy, you’ll get some fun ideas here.
5. Front & Company – For the hipsters on your list, Front & Company on Main St. is a good stop. In addition to their affordable selection of new and consignment clothing, they have lots of accessories, topical books, and silly gifts (ie. bacon car freshener). Plus in addition to their main store, they’ve also got separate store fronts (right next door) for baby products, home decor, and gift items.
Enjoy shopping, have fun with it, and please do try and be done a little early. The best part of Christmas is wrapping the gifts (while drinking egg nog!), giving gifts, and celebrating the season. Not stressing about the shopping!