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Shopping Tips for Grinches

A couple of people have asked me if I’m going to review cool toys for this year. Uh—no. First off, I don’t even know what to get my own kid, much less yours. Plus, there are so many different age groups that it’d be hard to discuss all the choices here in this blog. But the real truth? I hate reviewing toys. When I was a reporter for CBS, I was assigned the Toy Fair every year, the big event at the Javits Center in Manhattan, where new toys are introduced to the market. It happens in February, but I’d start dreading it in January because I hated it so much. I’d spend eight hours walking down aisle after aisle of toys trying to figure out what to recommend. Toys people would stalk me. “Look at mine. Look at mine.” I felt like a john on the streets of Amsterdam’s Red Light District. “Try this one. Isn’t it nice?” Ugh. I now kind of feel the same walking around Toys “R” Us. “Buy me. Buy me.”

I’d almost rather tell people what I don’t want for my kids. Of course, it seems silly to tell people not to buy toys that make lots of noise. Shouldn’t they know that? Maybe they secretly don’t like me and want torture me. And why do people insist on buying toys with a million parts that either get lost or scattered about the house? Permanent markers? No. Somebody gave Maisie regular crayons rather than washable ones. It looks like I’ll be doing some painting in the near future. Sigh.

Truth is, I’m really sick of stuff. Our house is filled to the brim with toys and all sorts of other crap that I more often trip over than not. I long for the day when I can suggest tickets to something as a present rather than coming up with yet more crap to clutter my house. Then again, all these things make my kids happy so what’s a little more junk? Maybe I’ll take up drinking and just learn to overlook it all.

Until then, I’m always looking for things that are a little different. I have good luck finding unique clothes at Daffy’s. My mother-in-law always finds cool things at HomeGoods. That’s where she got Maisie a little toothbrush holder with an hourglass to help her learn how long to brush her teeth.

Of course, I don’t have time to actually go to stores anymore and it won’t be long before I can’t take Maisie with me because she’ll be on to me and what I’m buying. That leaves shopping online. I love shopping online. LOVE it! My brother and his girlfriend were visiting from Texas this week and they thought I was crazy. “Don’t you like to touch something before you buy it? Feel it?” Nope. I just want my errand done the simplest way possible.

I’m big into places like Zappos that have free shipping both ways or perhaps finding something online that I love and then finding a promo code to get a deal on it. Just Google the name of the store and “coupon” or “promo” and—voila!¬savings galore without having to tote around coupons.

Lately, I’m partial to finding one-of-a-kind homemade stuff on etsy.com, a website that allows artists to market to the general population. I also love zulily.com. Sign up and this site will send you deals on everything from maternity underwear to kids’ clothing and toys to strollers. It has the absolute cutest clothes ever for great prices. The sales—or “events,” as the site calls them—change daily. One day this week, Peg Perego strollers were discounted 45 percent and some Kenneth Cole coats for women were marked down 65 percent. Hot diggity dog!

Anyway, good luck finding the perfect and unusual gift. Thank goodness I don’t have to stalk the elusive, must-have gift this year. There are no Cabbage Patch dolls or Tickle Me Elmo in my immediate future as Maisie and Hudson are too small to ask for something specific. I think, however, the end of shopping without tears is near. Dear God, give me strength!

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