This is a handy guide to Christmas shopping for guys who generally feel retail-challenged as the gift-giving holiday season looms.
Maybe you don’t like to Christmas shop. Maybe you’d rather listen to William Shatner sing/speak I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas about 100 times rather than get out and contend with the holiday crowds on a doleful quest to fulfill your obligation to acquire Christmas gifts for your family and friends.
Or you could be a guy who really likes the idea of giving gifts to his loved ones but you have trouble figuring out what to get. What does your girlfriend really want? What could you get your dad that isn’t lame? Why doesn’t your brother wear that orange hoody you got him last year?
Your thoughts go in circles and you end up with purchase-paralysis.
Whatever your challenge with Christmas shopping, the solution is at hand. In this quick and dirty guide for guys who are allergic to shopping, or have trouble finding Christmas gifts that people will actually enjoy, you’ll find an easy path to Christmas gift-giving success.
First, to keep it simple, don’t drive anywhere. Stay in your house or apartment. You don’t need to spend money on gas or endlessly hunt for parking spaces. You don’t have to wander through malls or department stores in confusion, trying to spot some item that may, possibly, serve as a worthy Christmas gift for your Aunt Betty.
You’re going to shop online. And you can handle it all by using the three following sites.
Sure, it would be possible to do all your online shopping at a place like Sears or Overstock or Newegg, but those are huge online stores and they don’t necessarily make it easy to find something cool. In other words, those sites are more for experienced, goal-oriented Internet shoppers.
I’m going to recommend three sites where you can not only shop easily, you can find unusual items that will make people think you’re a thoughtful shopper.
Using these resources, you can cover all your gift-giving needs, from your 2½-year-old niece to your 82-year-old grandfather. Or even your boss.
Begin with Fossil. Here you can find seriously cool products for the special people on your list — your wife, your brother, sister, or best friend. This is a site primarily to get stuff for adults.
Fossil is in the business of making stylish products that look good and work well — watches, clothing, sunglasses, bags and purses, shoes, jewelry, belts, personal accessories, and more. They became well-known for making Swiss-quality fashion watches beginning in 1984, and have branched out extensively since then.
And you can get FREE shipping on any order over $100 at Fossil through June 30, 2013.
You could get a watch for each of your important gift recipients. For example, for your wife, one of Fossil’s ceramic watches. Or she might like one of Fossil’s Stella watches — their most popular watch ever.
All Fossil watches come with an 11-year warranty.
The Fossil site often has individual photos of how the watch or other item will look when she or he is wearing it. That’ll help you choose. And if anything, the selection of Fossil watches for men is better than that for women. For example, consider a titanium watch for your dad. Titanium is rad.
You could get your girlfriend sterling silver jewelry and vintage charms at Fossil. Get the basic silver bracelet, then add charms that are symbolic of your relationship with her. Girls love that stuff. You can also add charms for other gift-giving occasions later, so it’s a gift that keeps on giving.
If you’re confident enough about her size, consider Fossil’s women’s clothing — stylish stuff that isn’t run-of-the-mill designs from a department store. Or get her a Fossil gift card and let her choose for herself.
For the men on your list, consider a Fossil bag. If it’s an important gift, check one of their leather bags, such as the Dillon messenger bag. Or a bag for weekend travel, like the waxed-canvas Estate Duffel.
If it’s a more casual gift, try a passport holder ($50, with free shipping now). Almost every guy would appreciate a passport holder. Or a leather iPad easel. Or an iPhone case ($25). Or a baseball-style T-shirt ($32).
Fossil streamlines gift-shopping on their site. Go to their homepage. You’ll immediately see clickable slide-show screens for gift suggestions. Or use the left-side navigation and click on one of the major categories, such as “Women” or “Men,” and then under that category look for “Gifts.” You can even refine it by price range. There are also suggestions down the left side for specific types of items (including a “Charm Builder”).
The site is easy to navigate and you can also use the “Search” function at the top of their page to hone in on specific items, such as iPhone cases, men’s accessories (including sunglasses), and necklaces. After doing a search, you can narrow the choices by price and several other criteria.
Many Fossil items are made in limited quantities, so if you see something you like, get it now, because it may be sold out soon, especially at this time of year. What that means is there’s a touch of exclusivity to what you get and give from Fossil.
I wouldn’t recommend Fossil unless they provided good customer service and good value for your money on most products. Check reviews of their stuff online and you’ll see that most customers are happy with their Fossil purchases (especially watches and clothing). For example, to see some independent customer input, check the Fossil area on Zappos and read some of the customer reviews.
The next site is Red Envelope. You could fulfill all your gift-hunting on this one site if you wanted to. The strength of Red Envelope is that they have unusual, high-quality items for adults and kids, as well as categories of gifts to cover almost any interest. Plus they make shopping easy.
If you get focused, you can probably do all your Christmas shopping in about 20 minutes on the Red Envelope site. You can have everything gift-boxed, and shipping is free if you spend over $49. Plus they’re offering a number of discounts now. For example, every day they have a discounted “Gift of the Day.” All orders now are at least 15% off. The discounts are automatically applied when you check out; no coupon code is needed.
Red Envelope is pretty much made for gift shopping (though you can find cool stuff for yourself there as well). The origin of the name is based on the belief in Asian cultures that the color red symbolizes good fortune and happiness. In Vietnam, a man brings gifts covered with red paper to his fiancée’s family. In China, a “red envelope” filled with money is a traditional gift on holidays and special occasions. The Japanese take a little more gnarly approach: they believe red will expel demons.
Well, we’re trying to corral your Christmas-shopping demons.
To add to their generally high-quality and unique products, the Red Envelope site optimizes gift shopping. For example, go to their homepage. The first slide you see says “Shop Christmas Gifts.” Click on that. You’ll see categories for women, men, kids, and various specific interests (such as “Bar and Wine” — but stay focused: don’t start drinking yet). Take a look at their suggestions.
Or just go to the top navigation bar and under “for her” and “for him” you’ll see categories such as “for the home” and “home and office” (the latter is where you can get something for your boss). The site is easy to navigate and you’ll soon hone in on something interesting for Aunt Betty.
Customer reviews make it easier to make your selections at Red Envelope, since these customers have actually bought and used the items they review (unlike places such as Amazon where the customer reviews are often about as reliable as Lindsay Lohan’s promises to abide by the law).
If you’re not sure what gift to give a guy, get him food, alcohol, or a set of cufflinks, all of which you can find at Red Envelope.
If you can’t decide what to get a woman, get her a personalized bathrobe, a cashmere scarf (also with the option to personalize), a leather jewelry box, PANDA wood sunglasses (very cool, pictured at right), something for her garden, or a set of Envirosax Market Bags.
By the way, if she has a Pinterest account, take a look at her boards. They are a handy guide to her taste. Get her something similar at Red Envelope.
Red Envelope is also a good place to shop for all the business-people and/or colleagues on your list. You can get them interesting little tchotchkes that are rather uncommon (vintage leather baseball, anyone? Beer holster? Personalized golf balls?).
For your grandfather, get him a wallet (they have some interesting ones) or a Gorillatorch Blade.
They have traditional-style gifts for little kids and babies, too, such as a quilt or long-johns. They carry two sets of wooden blocks (classic toy for a toddler), rag dolls, and a fuzzy little lamb to sleep with. For an older kid, you can find docks for iPods or other mp3 players, headphones, a stainless-steel deluxe compass that you can have engraved, a girl’s cashmere hat, or a waterproof iPad case.
Red Envelope is committed to good customer service and stands behind their products. They guarantee that if you or your recipient are not happy with the gift, they will exchange it, give a gift card, or a refund.
National Geographic Store
Here’s a store that you might not even be aware of, let alone think about regarding shopping online: The National Geographic Store. Of the three sites I’m recommending, this has the largest selection of interesting products, with everything from high-end art and home decor to motion-sensor cameras and foreign language translators. You can certainly find some out-of-the-ordinary gifts there.
This is also the best site when it comes to shopping for kids, especially kids ages 5 – 12. You’ll find some cool toys offered.
Once you explore the National Geographic site, you’ll see what I mean about how comprehensive it is. If you’d like to streamline your shopping, go to their homepage. Then, in the top navigation bar, toward the right side, click “Gifts.” Under Gifts, check “Best Sellers” and “National Geographic Favorites.” That’ll get you started.
National Geographic sells dreams of adventure, plus knowledge, education, and exotic culture. So you can find gifts there that people didn’t even know they wanted. And that’s the best kind of gift to get.
Here are just four suggestions of products to check out for the people on your holiday list.
For a kid, try the Rapid-Fire Robot. This radio-controlled robot will walk around the room, talk, and fire light-weight foam disks.
Also for kids (and adults), check the Laser Khet 2.0 Game — a strategy game similar to chess but played with Egyptian-themed pieces that shoot laser beams. As National Geographic is fond of saying, it’s both educational and fun!
This game is a Mensa award-winner and a finalist for Toy of the Year.
For both adults and youngsters, you can get a pair of National Geographic 8 x 21 Mini-Binoculars. These binoculars are surprisingly good for the price — just $29.95. (Search for “binoculars” on their site.)
National Geographic has a number of additional optical devices, including telescopes, and something for the adventurous person for whom you need a high-end gift: night-vision binoculars. (For watching wildlife, of course.)
Still looking for something for your grandfather? He’ll appreciate the Irish Donegal Tweed Cap, which is handmade in Ireland.
These suggestions don’t even scratch the surface of what you can find at the National Geographic Store. Of course, you can get subscriptions to any magazine they publish, including National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, and National Geographic Kids. Everybody likes National Geographic magazines.
You can also get a set of 7 DVDs that contain every issue of National Geographic ever published (just $24.95 right now).
You can get shows from the National Geographic Channel on DVD. Books. Calendars. Maps and globes. Lots of interesting clothing and jewelry. Travel gear.
And, yes, a photographic portrait of the RMS Titanic on the day the ship sailed from Southampton, England, signed by the last survivor of the Titanic disaster, Millvina Dean. (Look under “Historic Collectibles.”)
Hey, when I say you can get out-of-the-ordinary gifts there, I mean it.
You can even find inexpensive, unique stocking-stuffers (in case you want to stuff someone’s stocking).
The National Geographic Store also aims to please their customers unconditionally, so you can shop there with confidence. They’ll help you out if you’re at all not satisfied. But you probably won’t be. Unsatisfied, that is.
Go to their homepage to get started. Explore the various gift guides. If you’d like to get big discounts on some of their stuff, click here. The numerous customer reviews will also help you with your choices.
Additional Advantages to Shopping Online
There are other advantages and money-saving features to doing your Christmas shopping online. If you prefer, you can have your gifts shipped directly to the people receiving them. That way you don’t have to re-ship them yourself. Take advantage of the free shipping deals offered at the various sites.
You also have the option of having your gifts shipped in a gift box and/or gift-wrapped at Fossil, Red Envelope, and the National Geographic Store.
In many cases you also won’t have to pay sales tax, so you save that way, too, in addition to not having to waste time and money traipsing around to stores.
If you do have a gift shipped directly to the recipient, consider personalizing things a bit more by sending a Christmas card, too, letting the person know a gift is on the way. Again, you don’t have to go to a store to shop for greeting cards (something many guys enjoy about as much as having their eyebrows shaved off). Instead, go to Greeting Card Universe, personalize your card(s), and have them mailed for just $3.
You can also try The Gallery Collection (you have to mail those yourself).
Good luck with your holiday shopping, dude. May the stores be with you.
P.S. If any of these shopping suggestions made you say, “That’s a lame idea,” that’s good! You’re beginning to figure out what you actually want to get people. If you want to explore a wider range of the best online shopping sites — and save money — go to my Good Deals and Outlets page.