The Shopping Scene & Aspirin

Hi – it’s Liz here. Juli asked me to share my thoughts on holiday shopping. Why? Maybe it’s because I have so many people to shop for: parents, husband, three sons, one tween girl, and two cats just for starters. Or perhaps it’s because I’ve been working in apparel retail and garment production for a million years and she thinks I have an enormous amount of wisdom to share.

Maybe. But I suspect it’s really because over lunch the other day I offered an extended commentary about the “joys” of holiday shopping. Apparently, Juli thinks that everyone should know, so here goes!

First, let me say that I am usually a calm, responsible, rational and upstanding member of my community. Really. It’s just the frantic pace of holiday shopping that undoes me. Driving, crowds, jingles, Christmas lists, hunting for the specified item, returns…I need an aspirin and I’ve just begun.

Let’s face it, I will do almost anything to avoid a trip to the mall. Navigating around groups of teens and families with double-wide strollers is guaranteed to bring on a headache (Did I say I need an aspirin?) Honestly, just getting to the mall is an ordeal. The nearest one is 20 minutes away without holiday traffic, then there’s the endless loop around the parking lot, watching for any sign that someone is leaving. “There’s one! No, they’re sleeping in the car.” What about that one?! No, that’s reserved for the employee of the month!”

Then you actually do find a spot and you need the skills of an airport tarmac employee to ward off the other shopper-filled cars, who have been in orbit around this spot since dawn.

And when did the malls fill up with hawkers? When did someone take a look at the wide walkway in the middle of the mall filled with cruising teenagers and say “We can rent this space”? I don’t know, but now it’s a street bazaar of highly trained and super aggressive sales people with the powers of a mythological Siren. I won’t tell you what I spent on a jar of mud from the Dead Sea –but apparently I’m a real sucker for the flattery of handsome young men selling skin care products.

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

My strategy now is to ignore these sales people entirely by pretending to get a phone call as I see one approach. It’s more challenging when I’m with my daughter. Many of these displays contain shiny novelties like flying helicopters, fuzzy animal slippers, gaudy jewelry, and ipod covers in bright colors – all designed to attract children. If you know how to get from the mall entrance to the food court without stopping for a 15-second facial, a remote-controlled plastic drone, or a combination rug-bathmat-pajama, please tell me your secret!

AspirinYes – a trip to the mall is guaranteed to bring on a headache – and there’s not enough aspirin in the world to conquer a holiday shopping mall excursion-induced migraine.

These days I don’t wander the mall; I make a cup of tea, pull up a chair and wander the internet to look for interesting gifts. I’ll start with an idea and see what pops up. The tween girl in our household has an ever-changing Santa list- but one item can be spotted on every iteration – a Furby. I thought they had gone the way of Cabbage Patch dolls – extinct – especially when our neighbor was selling one at their yard sale last summer. So I googled Furby and got 15,600,000 results! Apparently there’s been a resurrection. The latest incarnation – the Furby Boom – comes in dozens of color combinations and can learn to speak just like a real baby. I was able to compare styles, colors, and prices from dozens of vendors from the comfort of my home. That’s especially nice when the temperature outside is 16 degrees!

And I really like websites that make gift-giving easy. Amazon does it really well, and I like the number of options a site like Firebox offers. And it’s no surprise that Julianna Rae offers a great Holiday Gift Guide. Every year they choose a theme to help you narrow down your options. One year it was “What type of vacation would she take?” Another year “Which type of book does she like to read?” This year it’s movies!  That means websites like this one, which offer Holiday Gift Guides to help you (or your partner) choose the perfect gift for someone you love. As long as you know a little bit about what she likes, you can find just the right luxurious gift for the special woman on your list.

After all, that’s what we’re trying to do, right? Show our love for family and friends through the perfect gift. Not having to take a handful of aspirin to combat a shopping-induced migraine is a nice bonus. And when I’m done, I might just reward myself with a Dead Sea mud facial.

Featured Image Credit:

Liz Smith has worked across the globe for many of the world’s major apparel brands, including Victoria’s Secret, Chico’s, Justice, and Hanes. She has earned thousands of airline points and worn out several suitcases visiting factories in more than 20 countries to ensure that production is of the highest standard. Liz has managed all aspects of garment production, from design through fabric development to sewing and merchandising– so she knows what it takes to make high-quality apparel. Liz is thrilled to share her knowledge about clothes to help discerning customers choose the finest products. Learn more about Liz by reading her personal blog.

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