Despite how much I complain about winter (I still don't like it) and avoid acknowledging the arrival of the holidays, I'm pleasantly surprised by how far along I am in my gift planning and buying. I usually get ideas around late summer for the bigger gifts—my mom, close friends—so that I can include any bigger purchases in my budgeting for the last few months of the year. I use Google Docs to track holiday gifts, making a list of who I'm buying for this year and what, along with any other notes. It's also super helpful to make sure I don't get someone the same thing or something similar twice (I'm often pretty terrible at remembering what I've gifted after the fact).
So far this year, I'm just over halfway through my gift buying, and all the bigger ones are out of the way! Since my budget is a little tight this year for friends, I'm doing some DIY gifts like infused simple syrups and homemade sugar scrubs. I stocked up on holiday cards from Rifle Paper Company, and did the rest of my shopping at several of my favorites, from local shops to online, including Zappos, who has a killer selection of gifts for most anyone, and incredible shipping & customer service. Anything major for people at home or that I need to ship, I order online and send to my mom's house—she has a ton of great wrapping paper, and sometimes I can bribe her into wrapping a few for me (she's an expert, seriously…thanks Mom!).Zappos each month this year, and I have to say they've become one of my favorite sites to shop. If you haven't visited in a while, check 'em out—they have a killer selection of brands on Zappos and Zappos Couture, with incredibly fast shipping times (I usually get my purchases the day after they ship!) and quick, responsive customer service. For December, I was paired up with Lorianne Lacey; we were each given a budget to shop for the other person, and I have to admit, I was a little nervous at first. Gift shopping for friends and family comes easy to me, but I was afraid of picking out something that wouldn't fit Lorianne's style! Thanks to a few helpful hints from the Zappos rep and some serious digging around the site, I was pretty satisfied with the classic heeled boots, sparkly necklace and luggage tag I picked out for her (all pictured above, at top). In return, Lorianne selected a slouchy blue sweater, patterned wristlet and colorful accessories for me (pictured at bottom). I've already been living in the sweater, especially when running around on the weekend, and the pouch has made a few trips to the gym!