Well, another year has almost passed, but before we ring in a new one and say goodbye to 2014 we must not forget the most exciting day for so many kids around the globe, CHRISTMAS! Let’s face it, as beautiful as it is meant to be, Christmas requires a lot of time, creative brain cramming and money! Fortunately, with the benefits of technology and Web 2.0, the most spectacular day of the year has become a lot less stressful.
Hear this, in 2001, 13.4 out of 2.2 million households bought online. By 2007, 70 million orders were placed online out of 8.4 million households and by 2012, there was a whopping 7.7 billion Canadian online purchases! It’s almost unbelievable but it makes sense. We don’t have time to spend countless hours in shopping malls scouring the shelves to complete a near impossible list. Canadian weather rarely permits speed shopping, at least not if you want to make it to Christmas dinner in one piece. So, it seems logical that online shopping is increasing yearly by the billions.
Before I dive into my picks for holiday shopping sites, let’s very briefly discuss security and fraud. BORING!
Here’s the thing, your credit card information runs the risk of being stolen even if you aren’t buying online. If you have serious concerns you can use a pre-paid credit card to ease your fears. I have never had an issue primarily because I only shop from reputable sites. I don’t search a random toy on Google, scroll down fifteen websites and buy something from number sixteen. It takes a little common sense but with that being said there is always a risk. If you or a family member are nervous and you need help convincing, here are some steps to keep you safe.
Phew, that’s out-of-the-way! Now onto something a little more fun. I like to think I’m the finder of anything. My mom spent months looking for a matching sugar and cream bowl to a butter dish I had bought my sister six years ago, yes, six years ago. We were out for lunch last week when she began to describe in detail the amount of stores and kilometres she had travelled to find said pair. My ears were exhausted by the end so I quietly picked up my phone, searched for about 2 minutes and voila! Of course, she is too scared to buy online so she gave me cash (maybe I’ll forward her this post). It took 48 hours for them to get to my door. I think I saved Christmas and her sanity, in less than 5;). What a beautiful feeling!
Now, I’m organized, my shopping is long stuffed away and hidden in my storage closet but for those of you who are like many of my friends, last-minute shopping can bring great deals along with an awful headache. If you are looking for really fast shipping, I would have to suggest Amazon.ca (the everything store), BestBuy (for all your necessary electronics and games), Indigo Chapters (who doesn’t love a good book or board game?) Well.ca (for all your personal hygiene needs;)) and Toys R Us (for obvious reasons). Online shopping can only thrive if consumers get their product quickly, and fortunately big online distributors such as the ones I listed above get this in its entirety. Not a single item I have ordered from these sites has taken more than 48 hours and the shipping for everything was free (provided I spent over a certain amount).
Online shopping is neat because you can do your shopping from a website or from their app. My favourite app to shop from is eBay. It saves my recently viewed items, suggests what I might be interested in and links me to items similar to ones I have previously purchased or bid on. I love bidding on items. My son and I used to get so excited when bidding on rare hard to find Skylander figurines. Many listings have BuyNow options as well.
The eBay app keeps my PayPal information stored so I never need my wallet with me when I find the perfect gift. A seamless way to shop.
There’s a catch. I would not suggest eBay for last-minute Christmas presents as they may not make it under the tree in time. EBay is a an online marketplace with different sellers. Shipping lays in the hands of the seller, however, you can grade your transaction and most sellers rely on high scores to ensure future sales. It is a bit riskier though so I would recommend eBay for “non rush” purchases.
So far eBay is the only app I shop from consistently. Apps like IKEA or BestBuy are not as good as their websites at this time. Application shopping is fabulous for companies you purchase from often because your information is stored so easily. If you don’t want newsletters I would suggest shopping as a guest on the actual website.
So what about savings? Let’s face it, we all love a good bargain and if online shopping uses discounts as incentives, I’m all for it!
My favourite part about online shopping, besides finding the perfect item, is the promo code. I recently purchased tickets for my entire family for the holiday musical Freezing. My friends are producing the show and had posted a Cyber Monday promo code on their Facebook page. Perfection! I immediately linked to their ticket sales provider Vendini, picked “the best seats possible”, entered the promo code, purchased the tickets, printed and added them to separate envelopes with personal holiday invitations to see a wonderful show as a family. I had intended to go regardless but the advertisement of the 25% off promo code really sealed the deal for me. It didn’t take long at all and I cannot wait to see their expressions when they open their Christmas cards.
Theatre and concert tickets are a great last-minute gift as you can print them immediately after purchase (check out the National Arts Centre Orchestra’s 3 concerts for 75$ deal).
Where to find a promo code? A promo code coupon website of course! There are websites that list numerous promo codes you can then type in near the end of your purchase. Here are some examples you can check out for yourself: couponfollow.com, bargainmoose.ca (my personal favourite) and retailmenot.ca. These coupon sites are reliable and have some pretty awesome deals.
It’s Christmas time of course, and who doesn’t love a little carolling? Have a piano or guitar but no Christmas sheet music? Check out musicnotes.com for all your holiday favourites. Guess what? They have tons of promo codes so you can’t go wrong! Simply purchase the piece you want, transpose to whatever key, pay and print. Feeling a little rusty? What a fabulous excuse to pick up that old instrument and feel like a star! If you purchase often, simply save your account information for an easy breezy, wallet free transaction!
While it’s easy to want to spend our entire Christmas budget buying things our loved ones want, let us not forget to help out those who are in need this holiday season. WorldVision.ca has a wonderful online gift catalogue to help you help others. You can donate in the name of your child’s classroom, teacher or even the grand parent that already has everything. Here are some of the items our family has donated: a goat, bug nets, bedding, classroom supplies and we have been fostering an amazing little girl for the past eight years. You can include your children so they learn the importance of giving back.
Christmas is accused of being a consumer based holiday, the true meaning lost years ago but I beg to differ. The beauty and magic of Santa exists in our home and in the homes of our friends and family. Yes, finding a great gift is wonderful too and is all the more special knowing we have picked the perfect one rather than grabbing something at Shoppers. The beauty of making handmade ornaments as gifts and surprising the kiddies with a new iPod touch can have its balance. Online shopping can be a great little helper in all of this. It can save you time so you have more of it to spend with your loved ones playing in the snow and building the most epic snowman or fort. Gifts can be the promise of family events (concerts or hockey games) that continue long after Christmas has passed. My view would be to make online shopping your friend because the possibilities are endless.
Online shopping has changed my way of doing Christmas forever. How about you? How much of your Christmas or Chanukah shopping have you done online?
WAIT!!!!! Silly me, I almost forgot. From our cozy decorated home to yours,