Holiday season is near and you can almost smell the scent of cinnamon and pumpkin filling the chilled air. You can nearly taste a heaping spoonful of turkey stuffing followed by a forkful of candied yams. As a smile spreads over your licked lips, you jerk back to reality. Oh sh*t, the holidays mean you have to go holiday shopping! The relaxation of sitting beside a glowing fireplace with a spiked cider warming your hands is wrecked with images of angry drivers fighting over limited parking space, stressed shoppers shoving and grabbing, and never ending lines at the check-out counter. The holidays would be so much better if only there was a way to get all the gift shopping done without stepping into the retail version of a no-holds-barred, cage match—the shopping mall. Not to worry, there is a way.

  1. Spa treatments. Give the gift of pampering to someone on your list who could use some stress relief. Many local spas offer reasonable prices and a variety of services, from facials to massage. Best of all, you can get in and out in 5 minutes, so you won’t add any holiday stress to yourself.  Spa or massage packages make perfect presents for mothers and sisters, but don’t think only women enjoy them. Some men might not consider buying themselves a massage, but would be stoked at receiving some deep tissue muscle work as a gift.
  1. Bottle of wine or scotch. A bottle of wine for the foodie on your list or a nice Scotch for the distinguished gentlemen is a present that is always appreciated. You can get in and out of local wine and spirits discount or specialty shops in a flash and they always have special holiday gift sets and promotions during the shopping season. Don’t know which wine or spirit to get? No problem. Most stores have employees with expert knowledge that can guide you through a sophisticated purchase. Want to really blow away that debonair man on your list? Add a nice cigar to that aged single malt.
  1. Shop online. Want to get some of your shopping done without even leaving the house? Online retailers like Zappos and Amazon offer excellent customer service and variety. Browsing online in your sweat pants with a glass of hot cocoa (extra marshmallows) takes stress-free holiday gift shopping to a whole new level. There are plenty of gifts that you can order online that are one size fits all, like books, home appliances or electronics.
  1. DIY. The DIY movement has launched like a NASA shuttle for space (Houston, we have take-off). Just check Pinterest or YouTube to find ideas and how-to videos on doing everything. Do it yourself gifts can save you money and be enjoyable to make, much more creative and fun than fighting off vicious bargain hunters at the clearance rack. Giving a homemade gift often means more because of the time and personal care put into it.
  1. Grab a gift while running an errand. A convenient way to cross two errands off your list with one trip is to purchase a gift certificate for a service while you are getting it done for yourself. Headed to the grocery store? Pick up a gift card for the movies or dinner while waiting in line (many grocery retailers now offer gift cards to places like Red Lobster and Applebees or for things like movie tickets and iTunes). Getting a haircut? Maybe your barber or hair stylist offers gift certificates. When taking care of your next chore ask yourself if there a gift you can grab while you are there.
  1. Art. Ditch the predictable ties, scented lotions and specialty chocolates for a unique gift that will provide pleasure year after year. Most cities have an arts district where clusters of local artists have studios. For even more effortless shopping, you can purchase prints and original art online. Here’s 10 Places to Buy Amazing Art Online. Stand out from the crowd with a present that is truly out of the gift-wrapped box.
  1. The gift of good health. Give the fitness lover on your shopping list a gift certificate or a Groupon for 5 or 10 yoga classes at their local Hot Yoga studio or golf lessons at the local course. How about cycling classes at a spin studio, indoor rock climbing or the first month of classes at a martial arts dojo? Gifts that get people up and active are not only different and fun, but they give the added benefits of health and wellness too. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Gift giving is one of the most treasured of all holiday traditions. Why ruin what is meant to be a meaningful action, shopping for a present that will bring joy to someone you care about, by turning it into a nerve-racking, nail-biting chore?  There are plenty of ways to stay far away from the chaotic masses fighting their way through compact, brightly lit mall shops while kids scream, cheesy holiday music blares and shoppers grimace. Let us know if you try any of these alternatives to the dreaded shopping mall and how it worked for you.

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