Shopping TipsI am the Shortcut Mom and nowhere is that more evident than during the holiday shopping season. I pride myself on having not set foot inside a mall between Thanksgiving and New Years Day for at least the last fifteen years. The season is already stressful with traffic and crowds – I can’t imagine fighting over an XBox or towels at Wal-Mart on top of trying to bake five dozen Peanut Butter Blossoms for the neighbors’ cookie exchange. That’s why I came up with the ultimate guide to keeping yourself sane this season while still giving your friends and family amazing gifts.

The Internet is your friend.
Black Friday is ludicrous. Just the thought of leaving the Thanksgiving table before pumpkin pie to stand in line for a discount TV is enough to make me want to hurl a gravy boat through the TV I already own. And how crazy is it to wake up at the crack of dawn in a turkey-laced hangover state to go try to get the latest and greatest video game system? No thank you. Cyber Monday is where the real fun is: holiday shopping while lying in my jammies with a cup of coffee just can’t be beat. Though I did score a few Cyber Monday deals – all five Game of Thrones books on my Kindle for $10! – the online savings continue throughout the month. is my Santa Claus and we write letters to him almost daily. With a Prime membership, I get free 2-day shipping. You can create a wish list and send to your family who want to bestow your little cherub with whatever made-in-China they desire.
For the grown-ups, you’ll find everything for the drinkers to the thinkers in your life on Red Envelope. They have the coolest stuff like cashmere robes, custom barware and jewelry. The best part is they come wrapped up in a beautiful red box.
Another online retailer I can’t live without is ModCloth. They’re based in my hometown, Pittsburgh, and have oodles of gifts from mostly independent designers. Their clothes are fabulous, too, as most of my wardrobe can attest. They offer free shipping and maybe even a free gift or two. I bought all of my Austin Moms Blog contributors little gifts from ModCloth that I can’t wait to give! Be warned, though. You will buy more for yourself than you probably should in this season of giving.
Before you complete any online purchase, do yourself a favor and Google for a discount code. You’d be surprised how many companies out there offer discounts you’d never find unless you search. RetailMeNot is based in Austin and is my first-stop to see if JCrew is offering a free shipping deal.

Shop Local. Very Local.
We Austinites have no idea how lucky we are. There are small boutiques on every corner just filled with the perfect gift for even the most difficult person to buy for. Just down the street from me on Burnet Rd. is ATown. I can’t say enough amazing things about this store. They have soaps and scarves and art and jewelry and custom clothing and baby stuff…seriously, I could go on. I could probably knock out all of my non-kid shopping there.
For the little ones, why would you torture yourself at Toys R Us when you can check out Terra Toys on Anderson Lane? They’ll even pay your kids to make their shopping bags, and I’m all about exploiting my kid’s artistic ability. Other great places for local shopping are North Loop for quirky vintage boutiques; the 2nd Street District; South Congress; Central Park at 40th & Lamar {Blue Elephant, Zinger, Origins, Central Market, Gap} and BookPeople. And about a million other places I’m sure I’m missing.
For more ideas on shopping local, you can check out my Small Biz Saturday blog I wrote for Delysia Chocolatier. {Order yourself some chocolate, too!}

Throw a Party.
For a more intimate shopping experience, grab your girlfriends and have a home party. Chances are you know someone who sells CAbi or Stella & Dot or Thirty-One or Scentsy or Arbonne…heck, half of our contributors have one of these businesses so if you need to find one, just post it on our Facebook wall. Grab your girlfriends, a few glasses of wine and let the credit cards fly. Chances are you’ll find something – or nine somethings – to give as gifts without ever having to sober up.

The Ultimate Shortcut.
Finally, if you’ve had it up to your armpits in holiday cheer and just want to keep a low profile this Christmas, I offer you my tried-and-true, Ultimate Shortcut Mom Shopping tip: Walgreen’s. More specifically, the rack of gift cards at Walgreen’s. There’s a drugstore on every corner in every town and every drugstore has a rack of giftcards just waiting to be snapped up and shortcutted. ITunes, Amazon, Red Lobster, HEB, Chilis, Home Depot, etc. etc. There is no person of woman-born who would scoff at a giftcard to their favorite mass-market chain restaurant.

There you have it, my shopping tips that will save you time and hassle this season. Because whatever time you spend shopping means you’re not spending time eating and watching Christmas Vacation

What are your go-to holiday shortcuts? 



  1. This is awesome. Terra Toys became our go-to gift place when I really started to get sick of Target. When you start getting invited to a ton of birthday parties, it really helps to have some different merchandise to choose from. Also our PTA sells gift cards for most major retailers and restaurants, and a portion goes to the school!


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