Amazon Alternatives for Holiday Gifts

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Amazon Alternatives for Holiday Gifts

I recently read a statistic that startled me: 45% of Holiday shoppers will purchase from Amazon.

Maybe this shouldn’t surprise me. After all, I still regularly purchase from Amazon, even though I know that their market share is dangerous in terms of how it impacts both social equity and political power.

Read this: Is Amazon ethical?

But the reality is that it’s tough to find an alternative. Amazon has created a dream shopping environment that feeds our love for convenience and deals. You can find almost everything in one place, and if you have Prime, you’ll get it in one or two days.

Plus, if you live in a city where you have to walk or pay for parking to get to nearby stores, it is much more reasonable to simply buy online.

So, I get it. And I don’t know that all of us can easily boycott Amazon all year round.

But maybe we could boycott them this Holiday season?

  This post contains a few affiliate links  This post contains a few affiliate links

5 Ways to Avoid Amazon For Holiday Shopping

1. Think small(er).

Instead of overloading your loved ones with lots of gifts, consider purchasing fewer items this season. This will make other shopping options feel more accessible because you don’t need to run to the most convenient place.

Instead of a hoard of new clothes, maybe a really nice piece from a local store, or a hand knit sweater from Etsy. Instead of a whole bunch of books, maybe a single book from a local vendor and a nice box of tea to go along with it.

Being more intentional in your curation of gifts will make shopping feel less like a war zone and more like a thoughtful exercise.

2. Hit up craft fairs and local businesses.

Over the last few years, my mom has started buying us items like soap, local honey, and carved objects from vendors at seasonal craft fairs, and they’re such a lovely treat.

The regional specificity of these pieces makes me feel more connected to the place where my parents live, and the items always carry special charm you don’t get when you buy mass-produced versions.

Plus, these items are often quite economical, and the weight of thought that went into selecting them makes up for lower quantity.

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3. Don’t underestimate the power of Ebay.

If your loved one has their heart set on a specific thing, search for it on Ebay. I almost always tick the “Pre-owned” box in the search bar, because this ensures that the item is (loosely) secondhand, and likely a lot less expensive.

You can often find gently used or new items from individual sellers still with their original packaging, and many sellers offer great shipping options, too.

Just make sure to avoid all the knock-off junk coming straight from factories by searching for specific brand names and narrowing your search. (If you’re looking for tech, check out the refurbished options at Newegg).

4. T.J. Maxx is your friend.

I wouldn’t always recommend T.J. Maxx and similar discount stores like Ross, because not all of their items are truly overstock and many come from borderline-fast fashion brands, but it’s still a good alternative to Amazon.

For one, discount stores like these have the benefit of lots of varied product, many from department store brands, and the prices are often better than Amazon. They also carry boutique brands in things like skincare and candles, and even offer some ethical brands in their women’s clothing section.

If you don’t live close to a T.J. Maxx, you can shop online. For contracted reasons, you can’t shop by brand, but you can easily shop by category and size. They have a particularly good selection of Italian boots!

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5. Get your loved ones on board with a secondhand & handmade holiday.

This can be a big ask depending on your Holiday traditions. I know in my husband’s family, for instance, that new things are expected at Christmas time.

But things get considerably better – from both a budget and “sticking it to the man” perspective – when you decide to do more secondhand shopping for gifts.

A few years ago, my sister bought the majority of my gifts at a thrift store, wrapped them in a vintage scarf, and packaged them in a little ceramic bowl that says “Bean Soup” on the side. I loved that gift because it was lovely to look at even “wrapped,” and all of the components are still in use.

She and my sister-in-law are artists, and my mom is a crafter, so we also have a tradition of giving and receiving (but mostly receiving) art pieces.

The reality is that our orientation around gift-giving will have to change if we are to avoid big brands like Amazon this season. It doesn’t have to happen overnight, but it’s worthwhile to build more meaning into our gift-giving if we have the time to do so.

If you have to shop on Amazon, consider:

  • buying used books from sellers like Better World Books and thrift stores that use the platform.
  • shopping from fair trade and sustainable brands, like Fair Indigo, which uses Amazon’s warehouse.

What would you add to this list?

Leah Wise

Leah Wise is the founder of StyleWise Blog. She has been writing, speaking, and consulting on sustainable fashion, the fair trade and secondhand supply chain, and digital marketing for over ten years. An Episcopal priest, Leah holds a B.A. in Religion from Florida State University and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. When not working, you can find her looking for treasures at the thrift store.

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