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The holiday shopping guide for people who hate to shop

Christopher Breen | Nov. 28, 2014
If you're like many of us, the idea of holiday shopping gives you the willies. Chris Breen offers some tips for giving of your best without needless suffering.

You can. Travel to camelcamelcamel, create an account, and make your list (checking it twice is not required). Enter a price that you'd be willing to pay and wait for an alert (via email or Twitter) that tells you that the price has dropped to something you can afford. You can even view a history of the item's price, which may provide a hint about when it's likely to be discounted.

Use old gift cards. For years now the generic holiday present has shifted from the poinsettia and fruit cake to the gift card. "Oh, how lovely!" you exclaim, "An Amazon/iTunes/Target gift card! How thoughtful!" And then you shove that card into a drawer somewhere and forget about it entirely. Emailed gift cards are even more likely to be forgotten.

It's time to remember. Many of us have dozens of dollars of unused gift cards lying around. There is absolutely no shame in digging them up and putting them to work. Heck, you can even slip them into an envelope and send them back to the original gift giver along with a cherry note that reads, "Gosh, I loved your gift of the Amazon card so much last year that I thought I'd return the favor! Happy holidays!"

Impose your taste on others. You know that song, album, movie, app, ebook, or audiobook you love? It can be sent as a gift to the target of your holiday affection. Just travel to the iTunes store, locate the item you're after, click on the triangle that appears next to the buy button, and you'll see a Gift This option.

But be tasteful. There's always the danger that your gift of A Clockwork Orange may be received with an uncomfortable raise of the eyebrows. "Hah hah...erm, I think we'll wait just a few more years before we show this to Little Joey, but... um, thanks!"

Give the gift of you. You know things. You do things. You have unique talents and knowledge that you can share with others. Given that you're reading these words it's possible that you know a thing or two about technology. Put that to good use by helping a relative or friend set up their new mobile phone, ridding their inbox of spam, or showing them how to find the best stuff on Netflix.

Because ultimately, it's not really about getting the gift that's easiest to acquire. Rather, it's finding one that's going to be most appreciated and heartfelt. More often than not, a helping held offered at the perfect moment is just that--a gift that lasts a lifetime.


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