Holiday Shopping Made Easy

If you happen to be reading this on the day that it was written, it means that you only have three shopping days left until Christmas.

Of course if you are reading this after Christmas, consider this an early reminder to get started on shopping for next year.

Much like there are different types of philosophies regarding whether it is best to build a baseball roster through free agency or through the farm system, there are also different schools of thought on how to best tackle Christmas shopping.

For some people, Christmas shopping involves battling the crowds at the stores the day after Thanksgiving in search of the best Black Friday deals.

Lines of toy soldiers were the only lines I wanted to see this Christmas season.  Photo R. Anderson
Lines of toy soldiers were the only lines I wanted to see this Christmas season.
Photo R. Anderson

For others, Christmas shopping is a mad dash to find items at the last minute as if the other 364 days of the year were not good enough to shop on.

My style of Christmas shopping has varied through the years although I am pleased to say I was never a buy everything the day before kind of shopper or a get up before the sun for Black Friday kind of shopper.

While the methods have fluctuated, the common denominator through all of my shopping usually involved me trying to avoid crowds at all costs and be done as early as possible.

Usually the crowd avoiding version of shopping involved going to stores at off hours when the bulk of the world was either at work or asleep.

This style of crowd avoidance shopping was very easy to accomplish when I used to work the night shift at newspapers.

However, once I switched over to a more standard day time work schedule I found that I no longer had the advantage of shopping when others were not around.

This year I decided to try an entirely new way to Christmas shop and fully embraced shopping online as a way to spread Christmas cheer.

One side effect of buying all of one's Christmas gifts online is that a lot of boxes are generated. Photo R. Anderson
One side effect of buying all of one’s Christmas gifts online is that a lot of boxes are generated.
Photo R. Anderson

While I had certainly experimented with buying a few gifts online over the years, this was the first yule tide season when more gifts came through the mail than through me walking through a brick and mortar big box retailer.

On the surface shopping online seemed like the perfect solution for avoiding the crowds, while allowing me the convenience to shop at the hour of my choosing without needing to worry about how crowded the store was going to be.

With my handy laptop and the whole wide internet a mere mouse click away, I proceeded to click my way through my Christmas shopping list over the course of an hour or so.

Instead of being limited to what was in the stores within driving distance, I was able to pick and choose from a variety of items which could not be found near me.

During this online shopping bonanza I also discovered the joy of winning auctions on EBay, but that is a column unto itself for a later time.

The only downside to online shopping was the fact that unlike a brick and mortar shopping trip where I leave with the goods as soon as they are paid for, with online shopping I had to wait for the goods to be delivered to my door.

While I have worked hard through the years at being a more patient person, the sad fact is I still can be a very impatient person at times.

This patience is definitely tested when shopping online and having to wait a varying number of days for items to arrive depending on which region of the country they were departing from.

Actor James Doohan is best known for playing Montgomery Scott, aka Scotty, on <em>Star Trek</em>. Among his duties was beaming up away teams from alien planets. A transporter sure would make shopping online faster.<br /> Photo R. Anderson
Actor James Doohan is best known for playing Montgomery Scott, aka Scotty, on Star Trek. Among his duties was beaming up away teams from alien planets. A transporter sure would make shopping online faster.
Photo R. Anderson

In a perfect world items purchased online would instantly appear via some sort of “Beam me up Scotty” transporter system.

Order the item, pay for the item, and within seconds see the item appear on your mini transporter pad or replicator device faster than you can say, “make it so.”

Of course the world we live in does not include transporters and in home replicators. Although Amazon is looking into the use of drones and one hour delivery in some markets which will certainly lessen the wait time for those online goodies.

Another obstacle I discovered as a result of my conversion to shopping online was the package pickup stage of the transaction.

While I was free to order items at any time of the day or night, I was only able to pick up the packages during the hours that the community center of my apartment complex was open.

This led to me making daily trips after work to rescue my goodies from the clutches of the parcel closet which basically was like a day care for boxes waiting for their owners to come and get them.

Much like the guy that wears the red suit this time of year, the online buying experience also led to me creating a list and check it twice to track the anticipated and actual arrivals of each package to ensure that no gift was left behind in closet of misfit gifts. I also kept in virtual contact with my shipments through text messages and emails that informed me of where my package was in its journey.

While there was some concern that a package or two might get delayed along the way, thankfully all of the items arrived before Christmas and are wrapped and awaiting their recipients.

So while there were certainly some pros to an all online form of shopping, the jury is still out on whether I will continue to embrace that form of holiday commerce next year, or if I will return to once again braving the crowds in the stores.

Of course we may all be shopping by transporter or 3D printer next year.

I won’t be holding my breath on that though since I am still waiting on that personal jet pack and moon base that I was led to believe would have arrived by now.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get ready for some holiday ham.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson

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