Shopping is always better with gin!

Woman shopping online with a credit card at Christmas

I was thinking about Christmas shopping and it made me wonder…. How organised are we, really?
People often stereotype the man frantically shopping on Christmas Eve, the woman organised months in advance. The reality is that a lot of us probably sit somewhere in the middle.
This year I was very organised and bought many Christmas gifts in the January sales, back in those halcyon, pre-COVID days. But I still had several presents to get.
I hadn’t really fancied trawling round shops in the summer when things started to open up a bit and I remained very cautious, which meant that I still had presents to get so I turned to online.
It might surprise you to know that, as someone who owns an online business, ironically, I struggle with online shopping when it comes to gift-buying.
You see, in a real shop I like to browse, and suddenly I’ll see something and have a flash of inspiration and think: “Ah, this will be perfect for so-and-so for Christmas.”
If I spy something for my husband, he will sometimes think I’ve fallen out with him when I tell him to “go away” or “wait outside”, so I then have to explain it is so he doesn’t spoil his Christmas surprise!
When it comes to online shopping if I have a specific item in mind, then that’s fine. But if I don’t, I struggle to just “browse”. I never know what to search for!
I find searching “gifts for him”, “gifts for her” etc just brings up generic mass-produced things, and I like to find something individual.
I like quality products, often things that are hand-made or personalised.
So, with the new lockdown in place, I set myself the challenge of finding unique presents for my remaining loved ones online.
I decided to look to support as many small independent businesses as I could.
I have recently joined a couple of virtual Christmas markets as a stall-holder and decided to start there.
I spend hours browsing through the array of local businesses selling unique and wonderful things, and for the first time in my life I found myself enjoying browsing online.
Not only could I do this from the comfort of my living room, but I could have a gin & tonic while I was at it!
I widened my horizons and thought of all the lovely independent shops I have visited in towns and villages on past holidays – most had an online presence.
Many more clicks later and I was done. My credit card was groaning, but my arms were not as I now just had to wait for it all to arrive.
And it’s not just me that has succumbed to the internet revolution – my mother, who is a self-confessed technophobe, has learned to operate an iPhone, make WhatsApp video calls, use Zoom and she too has discovered the world of online retail.
Over lockdown she has ordered many things, from meat to tomatoes, and even now has an Amazon Prime account (by accident, but she has one – that’s the point).
The world is changing so much and Covid has brought challenges to many of us this year on both a personal and professional level.
I think there will always be a place for in-store shopping, and indeed this is something I look forward to enjoying again in the future.
But perhaps the virus will have converted more people like myself and my mother to the world of online retail.
I don’t think I’ll be rushing to fight with the crowds on a busy Saturday next year to do my Christmas shopping.
Laptop and gin it is for me!

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