Fun Holiday Shopping

It’s that time of year when the obligatory gift shopping begins. I refuse to get sucked into the commercial frenzy. You can, too.

I don’t like malls. I don’t like the physical spaces, the echoey cacophony and the hard surfaces. I don’t like the strained marketing the stores use to get people to buy stuff they don’t need. That said, in all honesty, I do go to the mall. That’s where the Apple store is and where I buy Clinique. But it’s not where I shop for gifts.

I also don’t like most gift cards.  Gift cards are the equivalent of giving cash, which destroys the spirit of  a gift – the surprise and pleasure of getting something you didn’t ask for and never knew you needed until you opened the package. Gift cards don’t have to feel like extortion, though. My oldest son will get one -there’s no way I can select clothes for him, so the card will be for an unexpected shopping trip to a store in the city.

I like getting books that I’d never have thought to read if it weren’t for them being given to me as a gifts. I like giving books, too. I’m lucky to have indie bookstores nearby, but I also shop online, especially for used books – that’s where I’ve found those old chicken keeping texts that I tell you about. (By the way, for you horse people out there, check out my friend, Robin’s, used equestrian horse books.)

What I really enjoy are unique handmade items. I’ve found some wonderful crafts, and made some even more valuable friendships, through a combination of this blog and an online community of artists. Celia Hart is a printmaker and is now also collaborating with a jeweler. Jenny Tiffany makes the most adorable stuffed animals with personalities that are so quirky. Brandy Goodwin is a soap artist. I know that there are many, many more worth a comment. If you are an artist or crafter and have products available online, this is your chance to toot your own horn. Tell us what you do and leave a link in the comments.

(And in a bit of shameless self-promotion, I do hope you’ll think about giving something from Little Pond Farm to your loved ones. Tillie Lays an Egg is the perfect gift for a little one, or an adult who collects all things chicken. There’s also the Goat Notes, the ringtones, and bumper stickers. The bumper sticker image can be put on any product at that store. Just ask! Links for all of these are on my HenCam homepage. Or, simply tell a friend about my site. Your gift to me are more readers!)

I’m looking forward to reading your comments and seeing your art!


  1. The whole shopping thing drives me nuts, yes I’m a man but still!!!
    Here is what I don’t get, so the stores all open at 3 or 4 am the day after Thanksgiving. They all have lost leaders at “rock bottom” prices and usually a handfull at each store to draw you in. But what doesn’t make “cents” to me with this early opening stuff (now stores are opening on Thanksgiving too) is if I have budgeted $500 for shopping for the holidays does it matter if I spend it at 4 a.m or 4 p.m.? No, when it’s gone it’s gone. But doesn’t the stores expenses increase by opening at 4 a.m.? for such things as wages, electric, heat etc.
    Who do you think pays for that?
    Then the retailers will complain they didn’t have a good holiday season, well duh, you’ve stretched the season out over almost three months now and have increased your overhead. Cry me a river…

    • The stores think that if they get those first few holiday dollars of yours, that you’ll spend the rest there, too. But the sales cut into their profits. Someone at some point is going to figure out that it doesn’t add to the bottom line.

  2. I also have to add Terry I’m right there with you on the gift card thing, I hate receiving them. I feel like they didn’t want to take the time to find me a gift. I’m really easy to buy for.

  3. Amen Terry! Well said! Can I just say that the holidays, I DO NOT look forward to? I hate the mall and the stores where everything is the same. Buying something for someone who doesn’t need a thing just for the sake of buying? I don’t get it. I finally put on the “suit” and told the entire family we don’t need “stuff”..if I need “stuff” I will buy it myself! They listened..we don’t do “gifts”..just have a nice dinner and relax. I do get my daughters a couple “things” as they are girls and always need “stuff”. We have a cute litte downtown with lots of cute crafty stores and I decided to spend my $ on the small business owners. But of course… the cats get a sock with catnip mice inside…

    • Donna, funny how we don’t need anything, but if someone wants to buy something for our animals…. I wouldn’t say no to this gorgeous 8 foot leash I saw at the pet store today….

  4. I am on a similar wavelength. I stick to indies, charities and local businesses for most gifts. For several years now I have done a canvas tote bag for each family that contains small things I wonder how I did without (kitchen tongs, net exfoliating scrubbie, favorite lip balm) and a goodie (Smith College scholarship pecans, Moravian ginger cookies, good cheese). There are homemade dog biscuits and cat toys for the four-footeds (ours are all indoor types). Then everyone gets a book. And this year some goat cards! I think I am turning into a Pip groupie….

  5. I agree, the malls are insane this time of year. They remind my of those glue traps for mice :(

    We do give the occasional giftcard. Mainly for kids that we know don’t often get a chance to go pick out something just for them. We are more into handmade gifts that we make ourselves. The occasional quilt, hats and mitts(we have a cold climate here in Newfoundland)and bottled pickles and jams from our garden. I also love to re-gift books that I have read and enjoyed.

  6. With unemployment and expensive plane tickets, it seems like everyone is having to cut back on gift spending this year, which has really been a blessing. It makes us focus on the real meaning of Christmas and the joy of just being together. For the adults, we set a dollar limit, make lists of things we would like (a certain book, fancy whole bean coffee, new socks, etc.), and then we draw names. You get one person’s name, consult the wish list for ideas, and then it’s a surprise to see who got everyone’s name and what they got them. It saves so much money and stress, and it makes the hustle and bustle of the mall a lot more fun because you don’t have too much to buy. I’ve crocheted hats and ponchos for the kids, and we’ll buy them a few fun things as well.

    As for gift cards, I happen to *love* them. At a time when we’re foregoing much of our luxury spending, it’s a fun and welcome break to be able to go to dinner or buy a shirt “guilt-free”; it’s a gift both when I receive it and when I spend it!

    • Leanna – I’d like gift cards, too, if everyone had your attitude. But, so often it comes across as extortion from the one getting the card, and thoughtlessness from the one giving. I think your combination of sane and homey gift giving plus a few gift cards sounds lovely. I hope you get a spree and buy something sparkly :)

  7. I was at the mall today. Ugh! I totally see your point, Terry. Bad place to spend any amount of time. Just some stores that you can’t find elsewhere, unfortuneatly.