November 22, 2020
I don’t need to tell you that the holidays will be different this year. The evidence is all around us. What I can tell you is how to pivot so that you and your loved ones can have your best Christmas season ever (and maybe you can even relax and enjoy some of it, too!).
Look, I know we are not quite to Thanksgiving yet. Many shoppers typically kick off the shopping season during Black Friday weekend. But if you wait that long this year, you may run into some difficulties. Because big box stores can’t have Black Friday crowds like in years past, they have already extended Black Friday and the deals that go with it throughout the month of November. As a result, you don’t have to wait until Black Friday weekend to get great deals on gifts. And because many shoppers are buying now and in larger volume than previous years, if you wait to shop you may find yourself looking at the dreaded “out of stock” heading on many popular items.
Likewise, there is a fixed capacity for shipping. Many carriers have already warned that the volume of shipping they are seeing now and expecting far exceeds their capacity. This means that if you wait to order gifts, you may be looking at extended delivery dates for important holiday gifts. And if you are usually that last-minute shopper, you may want to rethink your strategy this year or risk disappointment when the gifts you picked aren’t on your doorstep in time for Christmas. And let’s face it, with COVID cases on the rise, do you want to be shopping in the mall on December 23rd this year?
Perhaps in years past, you were able to see your family and friends in person to hand-deliver your holiday gifts to them. This year, that is likely not the case, at least with extended family and friends. Here in New York, the governor announced that in-home gatherings cannot exceed ten people. And with fewer people flying and older folks quarantining out of caution, you may be looking at shipping more gifts this year. This feeds into tip #1 – shop early so that you can ship those gifts to loved ones you won’t be able to see in person. Here are the shipping deadlines for all the major mail carriers here in the US. Because of the forewarned shipping delays, I would err on the side of caution and add several days to each of these deadlines. The only real guarantee is the Priority Mail Express option. You don’t want to cut it too close.
USPS First Class Mail: Dec. 18
Priority Mail: Dec. 19
Priority Mail Express: Dec. 23
Perhaps in the past, you were used to giving and receiving experiences as holiday gifts. It cuts down on physical items that many people don’t really need and can offer a truly unique adventure to loved ones. From swim lessons to ski passes, movie tickets to concert seats, and even airline tickets to fun destinations, many of those options have become ghosts of Christmases past (hopefully not for too long, though!). So what do you do instead? DIY kits are becoming all the rage! From kits that provide you all the materials and know-how you need to make your own bubble tea or hot sauce to DIY crafts that allow you to explore your creative side with felting, embroidery, and candle-making, the sky is the limit for gifting in lieu of experiences this year. Think of ways you can gift experiences inside the home. For your kids, it might involve a scavenger hunt. For your mom or sister, it might be a luxe spa kit for them to indulge as though they are on vacation. For your dad or husband, maybe it’s a subscription box for craft beers. Magazine subscriptions, book or audio subscriptions, and streaming subscriptions are also ideas. Maybe even create your own version of movie tickets at home with a homemade movie gift basket, complete with DVDs of popular new movies, gourmet popcorn and candy, or if you really want to splurge, a new TV or gaming system.
For those whom you can interact with (you know the ones - you’ve been stuck inside with them for the last 10 months…yeah, those people), consider gifts that continue to nurture that feeling of togetherness and connectedness that you were compelled to indulge in during the early days of the pandemic when everyone was staying at home. Board games and puzzles are a great way to bring the family together for some fun. And this will be a wonderful way to while away the long winter nights after the holidays come to a close.
Personalized Flower Earrings for Teacher Gift by Merry Alchemy
Whether it’s a mug with a sweet sentiment, a framed family photo, a handmade card, or personalized items like jewelry, sentimental gifts are where it’s at in 2020. Personalized gifts have been at the top of the shopping food chain on Etsy for several years now, but this year has put them in the spotlight more than ever. As disastrous as this year has been, one positive outcome for many people has been a renewed sense of importance on family, togetherness, connection, and support. For your grandmother or uncle in that care facility where they can’t have visitors, a handmade photo album of old and new photos and art from the kids would be a cherished and welcome gift. For your sister who is stuck across the country and can’t come visit for the holidays, a funny personalized mug or Christmas ornament would provide a much-needed laugh. And for your granddaughter, a custom wood cutting board with your famous apple pie recipe engraved in your handwriting is sure to bring on some happy tears. Just remember that personalized gifts often take longer to create, so get started on those items first.
If 2020 has taught us nothing else, though, it’s that people are more important than things; quality time is more important than the latest technology; and connection is perhaps by far the most valuable commodity. So, whether you are planning to put on a lavish Christmas this year or you have to cut back and do things with more simplicity, what really matters is the thought and love that you put into it and the lifelong memories you are sure to collect along the way.
From our studio to your home, we at Merry Alchemy send our best wishes to you and yours for a safe, healthy, and festive holiday season.
Want to make sure you remember everybody you need to gift this season and keep track of your gifts as you order and buy? Download our free Done For You Holiday Gift Shopping Planner! New this year is a stocking stuffer tracker. And it also includes a list of all the possible people you may need to gift - so you don't forget a SINGLE person this year!
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