Holiday Shopping Experiences: 5 Gifts for You & Your Recipients

I think we've hit a new high this year in the quantity of gift guides published. It seems every retailer has compiled one, which is an investment in content I question. Now we also have bots making suggestions (but really just replacing the same filtering one could do on an e-commerce site, right?). And publishers have their own must-have lists.

Instead of recommending items for purchase, I'm sharing ideas for where to go shopping if you want to have fun browsing and find desirable gifts.

  1. South Street Seaport in Manhattan: The Hester Street Fair (photo from their web site) is now just off Fulton. Its vendors are different from the ubiquity at the holiday markets throughout the city. Other shops in the Seaport with unexpected and small-brand finds include Whisper Editions and Northern Grade. 
  2. Canal Street Market in Manhattan: About a mile north, more than a dozen vendors recently opened in a gloriously airy space. Most brands are unique and/or local. Many sellers are pleasantly chatty.
  3. b8ta in San Francisco & Seattle: My favorite store I've never actually visited, this is the place to try tech products that should be experienced rather than glimpsed in a box. For retail industry insiders who want to ponder the future of retail, b8ta is also a great concept to watch. (Spoiler alert: The future is not an obsession with the 4-wall profitability of stores.)
  4. food52.com's Gift Guide: When asked who blends content and commerce well, I always think of F52. So it's not a big surprise I think their guide to gifts by kitchen interest and budget is the best out there. You can't spend time on the site without stumbling on recipes and articles (including ideas for gift-wrapping and holiday entertaining), which makes for online shopping that's surprisingly entertaining.
  5. E-gifting with a twist: If you don'twant to brave the crowds, you're out of time or you lack gift-giving knowledge, the classiest "gift card" online is at Saks, Macy's, Lancome, Urban Decay, and other partners of Loop Commerce. Unlike gift cards that flash a dollar figure in front of your recipient or force her to enter a promo code, this solution lets you thoughtfully select a gift. Loop notifies the recipient of your gift so she can decide on size, input her shipping address or easily make an exchange. If you work in e-commerce and don't yet know about Loop, this tip is a holiday gift from me to you.