Why I Refuse To Buy Gifts Online

Just call me old fashioned.

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Photo: Viktoriâ L'vova / EyeEm

These days, efficiency is queen. We get groceries delivered to our door, send invitations via email, and even do our girls' nights over video call. While these little helpers can be beneficial and, in some cases downright necessary, there's much to be said for doing them the old-fashioned way. I still take advantage of plenty of modern-day shortcuts, but one task that I refuse to outsource to my iPhone is gift-buying.

Let me pause right there though. If I've learned one thing over the years, it's that deals are to be had online, not to mention, not everyone has the time or ability to hit the pavement for an impromptu shopping trip. But dropping by a storefront or meandering your way along the main shopping street in your hometown is something worth taking advantage of whenever possible. If you've been leaning into the virtual shopping experience lately and have the ability to make the switch back, allow me to make the case.

The Wrapping

It all starts and ends with the packaging. I love the art of gift wrapping. Choosing a meaningful card, the nicest paper, and even folding those corners just right are all pieces of the picture-perfect puzzle. It's difficult to find online retailers that won't gift wrap at this point, but one can typically tell the difference between a professional job and one done at home, for better or worse. Sometimes you can get the gift wrapping thrown in for free, especially during the holidays, but even for someone who loves a freebie, the way I feel when I'm giving a gift that I wrapped myself is worth the investment.

We should also probably talk about those infamous "gift message" boxes for a second. As someone who is long winded, I find it difficult to stay within the character count without going too generic. As many of us have been taught through the years by our mothers (and other family members who specialize in social graces), the card should reflect the receiver and share some sweet words that let him or her know how very much they're treasured. If you can achieve that in 100 characters, please share your secret with me.

The Commitment

Beyond the gift wrapping, the effort required to go into a store, and typically a specific one at that, puts the emphasis on why I'm doing this in the first place. Whether it's a $10 tea towel, a $30 candle, or something that stretches my budget to the limits, my goal is to find a little treasure that I know my recipient will love. To do that, I have to touch and feel things, see them with my own eyes, and, yes, even compare side-by-side. I definitely have a tendency to overthink, but this is a time when I feel most inclined to lean into that character trait.

The Nostalgia

One can't talk about the reasons for selecting a gift in person without mentioning the confidence and sheer joy it can bring from start to finish. I love walking into a store with a specific person in mind and, when I keep that motive at the forefront it's hard to go wrong. Whether it's hand-delivered, left on a doorstop, or brought to a mailbox by the USPS, a handpicked gift can make all the difference.

When Is It Okay To Buy a Gift Online?

There are truly a million and one reasons why someone would need to buy a gift online and they're all justifiable: the recipient lives out of town and you need something there ASAP, sickness, an over-scheduled calendar, the list goes on. If the decision is between buying a gift online and not buying one at all, you bet I'll be Amazon Prime-ing with the best of them. The whole idea is to go to a store when you can, not at all costs.

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