Gifting Inspiration for the Shopping Challenged

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November marks the absolute busiest shopping month of the entire year and before you know it, the holidays will be upon us and the number of days left to take care of everyone on your gift list will have run out. But who wants to subject themselves to crowded malls? Or packed parking lots? Or managing a whole mess of online purchasing and tracking? It can be so easy to miss out the best parts of the holidays when you're too focused on crossing names off your list. 

Even if you avoid the madness of Black Friday or the endless website crashes of Cyber Monday, there are still plenty of ways to pick presents for your people without driving yourself crazy. Over leftover turkey sandwiches, I polled some of my savviest shopper friends to find out their tips, trick, and techniques for knocking out their holiday shopping without the stress--so take note, make a plan, and thank us later! 

"I am not the craftiest person, but I do like to make gifts for the holidays. I keep an easy shortbread cookie recipe on hand and then whip up a batch of homemade jelly or even peanut butter to go along with it. Each of my close friends, neighbors, and extended family members receives a tin of cookies and spread. It takes me one weekend, and I generally invite some of my girlfriends and cousins over to do their holiday baking, which gives us time to hang out and be productive. I like making innovative combinations, like thyme and cheddar shortbread with jalapeno jelly, or lemon-almond shortbread with strawberry jam. I promise, it's much easier than it sounds!"- Shokay Capra, 34, magazine editor 

"My favorite thing to do is hit up a site like Zazzle and make personalized, practical gifts for everyone. My people like to take a lot of pictures, so I scour our Facebook and Instagram, pick some of the best pics from the year, and pick an item to personalize. Last year, I did calendars. Each month had a photo from the previous year, and I added special dates like family member's birthdays, holidays we celebrate, upcoming weddings, and reminders for us to call each other and hang out. I had so many people tell me they were doing the same thing this Christmas, so I know it was appreciated. This year, I'm doing collage mugs of people with their kids or pets--I love it. I hate the idea of giving someone something they won't use, and instead making a very personal, sentimental reminder of our shared lives." -Brandon Turling. 41, gallery manager 

"I am the worst at planning my time, so I always end up waiting until the last minute--which is great, because I've figured out the easiest, most fun presents to give my friends. I whip up batches of bath salts! It's so easy. You mix Epsom salts, baking soda, and sea salt--the Epsom salt helps relax muscles, the baking soda helps soften the effects of the other ingredients, and the sea salt soothes aches. Then I add a few drops of essential oil, my favorite being sweet orange, and then I sprinkle in herbs or flower petals I pick and dry from my garden. I grab a flat of Mason jars from Target and fill them. But here's my favorite part. I love poetry, so in addition to the bath salts, I print out a few of my favorite poems on cute paper and include it with each jar. Everyone I know loves the salts, and appreciates the reminder to chill out, especially around the holidays." -Emma Viclarson, 38, animator 

"Instead of dealing with malls or online shopping, I spend a weekend hitting up thrift stores, antique stores, and yard sales. My mission? Vintage Christmas ornaments. I find one for everyone I'm gifting to. I've scored everything from beautiful hurricane glass globes, to kitschy plastic icicles, to weird old elves, and amazing 1980s pop culture ornaments. You'd be amazed how many things you can find. It's not at all difficult, and it's so much fun sorting through all kinds of forgotten treasures. I like the feeling of responsible consuming, and you never have to worry about giving someone something they already have." Thien Nguyen, 33, chef 

"I second Shokay, my favorite thing to gift is food. Everyone loves it, and I don't stress about if I'm getting the right size or whatever. But I have so many friends and family members close by, that I just don't have time to bake--so I throw cookie exchanges! I buy tins in bulk and invite everyone over. I ask that they bring their favorite cookie, baked good, nuts, or treat and I give them all tins. Then we go through the goodie buffet and try everything. I ask my friends to email me the recipes first, and I print them into little books for everyone to take home. It's tons of fun."- Luis Baur, 36, retail manager 

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