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’Tis The Season!

Food in Tuscany and Rome
Source: Flickr


‘Tis the season to begin gift shopping once again.
But, rather than battle crowds, weather and fatigue, we have the greatest invention of our generation—online shopping!

I love online shopping. I love the convenience of sitting in my robe, with a snack and drink close by, the TV on or a CD playing, and being able to choose any hour of the day or night to shop. And best of all, not having to battle traffic, rude crowds, or SNOW!

I love pretty much all online shopping, but one of my favorites is gift baskets. Gift baskets have been around for a long time, but seem to have really come into their own with the popularity of online shopping. They are the ultimate in easy gifting! And they make it easy with secure checkouts, personalized gift cards, and time-sensitive to-the-door delivery.

Whatever the occasion; whoever the intended recipient, there’s a fun and appropriate gift basket to be found. And for those of us with the spirit of adventure, some sites even offer customizable baskets. Many of the gift basket sites are really one-stop gift shopping—offering flowers and plants, wines, food baskets, corporate gifts and special gifts for kids.

I spent about an hour recently on one of my favorites, and managed to clear my list of a birthday gift for my 10-year old niece; an anniversary gift for my sister and brother-in-law; flowers for my “adopted mom” who recently underwent knee-replacement surgery; and a congratulations basket for a dear friend who recently had twins!

Being the frugal person that I am, one year I decided I would make and mail my own gift baskets. It was very time consuming, very expensive, but fun for a one-time activity. I created a home entertainment basket with microwave popcorn, Milk Duds and Raisinets, a few well-chosen video tapes (before DVDs became the in-thing!) and a few other items. Being of Italian descent, my favorite home-spun basket is called “A Taste of Italy.” It includes pasta, sauce, good Romano cheese, bread sticks, olive oil, wine and some delicious traditional Italian cookies!

Probably the only thing more fun than shopping for or creating gift baskets is receiving one. Several years ago I received this huge basket of the most incredible English muffins. Thick, exquisite muffins in every possible flavor. Needless to say I shared my bounty – and the next year went to the site and ordered several baskets for folks on my list. Another basket that really impressed me was the one our realtor sent after we bought a house. It had all the fixings for an intimate housewarming party, including a lovely bottle of wine.

I have to admit, the “gift box” from a well-known cheese company left me a little flat. I couldn’t get over that the entire box, which I know was not inexpensive, consisted of about four of those 2 ounce bars of cheese, a small jar of mustard, small package of crackers and a few hard candies. Definitely less-than impressive!

I really do LOVE online shopping. And I really love the ease and convenience of gift baskets! So next month, you’re likely to find me in front of the fireplace with my laptop busily choosing and sending out lots of holiday greetings around the country without having to put on shoes!

If you haven’t already joined the ranks of online shoppers, do yourself a favor and try going the online shopping/gift basket route. I guarantee you’ll enjoy the holiday season a whole lot more!