Any shoppers guide to holiday gift giving

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The tradition of gift giving around the holiday season is usually associated with a jolly, generous figure historically celebrated across the world for delivering gifts to poor children.

In a consumerist society like ours, any excuse is a valid cause to delve into debt and shower not-so-poor children with less-than-essential items.

During this season of giving, retailers are only too happy to provide anything one’s heart could desire. They take special effort in calculating and predicting each shopper’s every move and purchase.

Each consumer is strategically categorized and targeted by advertisers according to past behavioral trends. Just as advertisers study habits and promote products according to what their consumers will relate to, businesses cater to diverse shoppers, most of which will fall somewhere within the following categories.

"The Earlybird":
This shopper is the cause for the "Creeping Christmas" phenomenon. Christmas seems to come sooner every year, but this shopper loves every minute of it.

The Earlybird begins planning for the next holiday season the day after Christmas and sings "Joy to the World" in July.

If Earlybird shoppers don’t already have their purchases finalized, they should check out Wal-Mart on Friday, Nov. 2, when the store is holding a sort of pre-Black Friday, with secret bargains and free gifts.

The day after Thanksgiving (when the Christmas season kicks off for the majority of shoppers) is always an obvious chance to find bargains, especially if shopping for electronics.

Retailers CompUSA and Gap are even opening their doors at midnight on Thanksgiving to get a head start on the competition.
"The Procrastinator":
Opposite of the Earlybird, this shopper is either not particularly fond of frivolity or Christmas, slightly irresponsible, or just indecisive and busy (we’ll give the Procrastinator the benefit of the doubt).

Rather than count down the days until Christmas, the holiday seems to sneak up on this shopper. Many of the members in this category seem to be stereotypically male.

They can be found ravaging through department stores on Dec. 24, frantically searching for something … anything!
These shoppers’ best bet is sticking to classic items that will always be easy to find and always pleasing to their recipients: chocolate, flowers, perfume or cologne, jewelry. Such items may not create the "wow" factor, but this shopper doesn’t really have that luxury.

See’s Candy (found in most malls, free gift wrapping), Barnes and Noble (books are inexpensive and personal) and Hickory Farms (specialty food baskets) all offer great last-minute gifts.
Most retailers count on this shopper to be desperate and late, so they adjust closing times to accommodate the Procrastinator.

"The Tightwad":
Most people know these kinds of shoppers. Tightwads love their friends and family; but when it comes to Christmas, they seem to have a problem translating that love into a gift exceeding the value of a Hallmark card.

Tightwads knit sweaters and recycle gifts from their office’s "Secret Santa" from the previous year. Some Tightwads are frugal based on circumstance, not choice. In this case, most people understand.

Other than shopping months in advance to catch bargains, Tightwads can take advantage of a few ideas that will disguise their tightwad identity from even the closest of friends.

Buying gifts in bulk from stores like Costco or Sam’s Club (just make sure your recipients don’t know one another), making homemade gift baskets (movie night basket, spa basket), or framed pictures (resized and printed in black and white) are all inexpensive and thoughtful gift ideas.

"The Trendoid":
Not only do these shoppers know all the latest gadgets and hottest items every year, they own them before the rest of the world.

Money is no object. They live life in the moment, even if in the moment Paris Hilton is telling them to wear purple Uggs and accessorize with a Chihuahua.

The following are gifts you’ll be receiving if you are lucky enough to be associated with a Trendoid: the Apple iPhone (Revolutionary phone, iPod, and camera, $399), Playstation 3 (High-definition game, movie, and CD player, $499), HP Photosmart R967 (Digital Camera with a "slimming" feature, $349.99), T.M.X. Elmo ("Tickle Me Extreme", $39.99).

"The Traveler":
Around 64 million people traveled during the Christmas season last year, so this category of shopper includes a vast population. Travelers are faced with a unique dilemma: They need gifts small enough to take with them, yet these gifts should still be meaningful and personal.

Online shopping and gift cards are the traveler’s best friends.

Almost every major retailer offers online shopping and many have an extended variety of products through their Web sites.
Many retailers also offer free shipping and guaranteed delivery by Christmas, so you can order your gifts and have them delivered directly to your holiday destination.

Gift cards may seem impersonal, but when paired with a handwritten card or specified to a friend’s personal interest, the gift is more meaningful.

It is always a good idea to invest in a gift card that will bring experiences, not things. For example, buy two concert vouchers or pedicure gift cards and share the experience with your recipient.

Here are some great holiday gift Web sites:,,, and