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LFÉ’s Guide to Online Christmas Shopping 2012

Hi everyone! As we immerse ourselves even further into December, the ever-looming issue of Xmas shopping comes further into focus. But there’s no need to panic – even if you’re stuck in an office all day with no opportunity for hitting the stores post-work, we’re lucky enough to have a constantly-expanding world literally at our fingertips; online shopping. Having scoured the ‘net for bargains and covetable-yet-inexpensive gifts, I’ve compiled a list of brilliant online boutiques (showing both pros and cons for each site, tailored for each reader’s individual needs) which should help you make your purchases stream-line and take care of otherwise panic-filled expenditures with the click of a button.

(Click the images to enlarge them)

Free People (Holiday Boutiques):

Visually, this is without a doubt my favourite seasonal online shop – as is evident in the photos above – it would put the most contrarian holiday grouch in a festive mood! As soon as you enter your chosen currency on the site it will remember it for eternity; no time-consuming reentering needed. While thought of as a website made for indie/hipster folk, Free People’s gift guides cover a vast range of categories and showcase a multitude of innovative items (from colourful decorations and cozy blankets to hair chalk and lace panties packaged in a transparent bauble) perfect for gift-giving that’ll set you apart from the rest. The only main disadvantage is the whopping international shipping fee (obviously not a problem for US readers!); however, if you order from the UK site (which exclusively ships to Britain & Northern Ireland) within the next couple of days you’ll pay a standard shipping fee of £5 which will see your order arriving well before the big day.

Pros: Innovative stock; thought-provoking gifts not found anywhere else; stream-lined site.

Cons: Certain unreasonably-priced items, expensive international shipping fee.

ASOS “Gift for You, Treat for Me”:

As you may well already know if you’re familiar with my earlier posts on La Femme Éclectique, ASOS is my first love online shopping-wise; and this year’s vitual gift guide certainly doesn’t disappoint. With quirky categories such as Gifts for your BFF sitting proud alongside essential titles like 50 under £15 (Perfect for sorting out potentially-burdening Secret Santa duties) and a self-indulgent gift section, literally everyone is catered for in this feature (if you’re skeptical, just check out the “Great-for-everyone” gifts!). And for those who have no clue what to purchase, one of ASOS’s personalized gift vouchers will be graciously received. And no need for shipping concerns either; worldwide delivery is free! Who can argue with that, eh?

Pros: Expansive gift guide, broad price-ranges, free worldwide shipping (click “here” to see when your country’s cut-off date for Christmas appears), quick purchases made.

Cons: None!  :)

Topshop (Emma Cook Wonderland):

Topshop has certainly pulled out all the stops for Christmas this year, creating a short holiday film featuring A-list actress Kate Bosworth – which only further cements the brand’s status as the high-street label for celebrities. This winter, Emma Cook has collaborated with Topshop to create a small selection of sweet gifts (think metallic crown-wearing bunny soaps and make-up bags covered in luxurious wrapping-paper print) alongside the brand’s main collection; and from cool stocking fillers to warm winter woolies, you’d bound to find a cute little gift that fits the bill. Sadly, shipping isn’t free – but what’s enticing is the average deadline for ordering before Christmas is much more extended than with the majority of online stores. If you’re looking for a more substantial gift (and have the cash to fulfil getting it) then you should seriously consider buying one of Topshop’s custom-made hampers; who wouldn’t love a basket full-to-the-brim with on-trend goodies arriving at their doorstep? And as a last resort, like with ASOS, you can also purchase gift cards – and have the choice of posting them, emailing them or printing them out to deliver them personally.

Pros: cool stocking fillers, extended shipping deadlines,

Cons: potentially expensive shipping costs, no choice of international currencies (bar pounds, dollars and euros – the last two solely accessed on US and French/German sites respectively)

Cowshed Gift Guide:

Famed for its luxe, 100% natural skincare & bath products, Cowshed is perfect for those who enjoy some indulgent self-pampering. With sections including Gifts under £20 and £50, as well as categories for him & her alongside toddler gifts (every age group and gender is catered for!), you’d be hard-pressed not to find the perfect present; sadly global shipping prices can be quite high. UK readers are in luck, however – you get free standard delivery if you spend over £45 (you also get a lovely complementary gift) and those who live in London can even choose to have their items delivered within the same order day! Talk about being spoilt :P

Pros: Gifts to suit literally everyone, items purchased with a few clicks of a button (very stream-lined), luxe presents without the Creme de la Mer price-tag, UK customers brilliantly catered for.

Cons: Expensive international shipping costs, gift certificates limited to the UK.

Bumble and Bumble Holiday Gift Guide:

Strangely enough, even though I’m an ardent lover of Bumble and Bumble’s incredible hair products (I swear by their Thickening Serum, Creme de Coco shampoo, Curl Conscious Defining Creme and award-winning Surf Spray) I’ve never really professed my love in my writings. But there’s no time like the present; I love Bumble and Bumble. Before I raise your hopes and potentially dash them, I’ll warn you that the B.b site is regional – back a few months ago I discovered, to my chagrin, that orders only deliver to the US. But I’ve accumulated a great deal of (loyal, might I add) American readers, so I felt it only fair to write about the website! (Unless you non US readers want to feel your hearts sink even further, I wouldn’t recommend you read the next paragraph!)

Bumble and Bumble are always consistently generous with their shipping offers, and they’ve upped their game even more for Xmas. Today, for example, you get free shipping with $25 orders; this week you can enjoy free Second Day shipping and complementary samples with any order by entering GIFTIDEAS at the checkout; and throughout the holiday season you can benefit from free shipping and free samples and free gift-wrapping by simply using the code GIFT (you can even choose what samples you’re gifted – how brilliant is that?). With a gift guide featuring personality-driven categories such as presents for “the IT girl”, “the B.b Newbie”, “the Dapper Man” and so on, you can bet your stylish friends – or other half – will highly appreciate some pressies from the coolest hair brand around. I’m seriously jealous!

Pros: High quality, well-priced products; categories for both sexes; arguably the best shipping offers available presently.

Cons: exclusive to the US (otherwise you honestly couldn’t fault the site!)

Avoca Handweavers:

The main reason why I’m writing about Avoca is for the benefit of my Irish reader base; because while the company ships worldwide, the delivery costs outside Ireland and Britain aren’t that favourable – however, you can leave ordering up to the 12th of December (which is handy for relatively last-minute shopping). For those who aren’t familiar with Avoca, it’s essentially a lifestyle brand that is steeped in centuries of history – and it’s mainly noted for its throws and shawls (that were actually first made under the name Avoca Handweavers in the 18th century) and artisan food treats. It’s also famed for putting together incredibly decadent hampers, which are truly the perfect gourmet gifts for this Christmas (which I can say having sampled Avoca’s produce on a regular basis and being seriously impressed every time!) – whether you choose items perfect for Christmas breakfasts, Italian dining or post-holidays decadence. Be sure to include at least one of Avoca’s famous cookbooks, to unlock or further rouse the recipient’s inner chef – and if you’re not keen going down the culinary route, choose one of brand’s colourful throws to keep families snug around the fireplace while feasting on mince pies and mulled wine.

Pros: Wonderful gourmet hampers, shawls and throws (for fool-proof gifting)

Cons: Expensive delivery costs outside of Ireland.

Kiko Cosmetics “Dashing Holidays”:

For my final featured website, I’ve saved quite possibly the best for last – how could I not write about Kiko? If you aren’t already aware of my widely-expressed love for the Milan-based make-up brand, you can acquaint yourself with my reviews “here”. As the Italian queen of cosmetics, this year’s holiday section is bursting with versatile categories that fill the void for every gender and wallet – and the newly-released Xmas collection, Dashing Holidays, includes wonderful present options like nail lacquer sets, heart-shaped bath pearls and elegant sequinned make-up bags. You can order from the German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and British websites to receive deliveries in each respective country – but unfortunately, shipping is limited to the native countries of each nationality mentioned above. Luckily, the countries that can purchase Kiko Cosmetics online only have to place orders by noon on the 18th December – leaving plenty of time for festive decision-making – and orders above €49/£49 ensure free delivery; while even with cheaper purchases, the normal shipping fee is halved. I’m genuinely impressed by Kiko’s holiday endeavours this year (they’ve even incorporated social networking sites to strengthen the bond and interaction between the brand and its customers) – if it delivers to your country, don’t miss the opportunity to purchase some really unique cosmetics that will be undoubtedly cherished by those at the receiving end ♥

Pros: fantastic gift categorization, versatile make-up gifts, extremely well-priced items, guarantee that no-one else will have similar presents – as Kiko is surprisingly quite an unknown brand in general terms (unless, of course, they’ve read this blog post! :))

Cons: Limited delivery areas.

So there you have it; La Femme Éclectique’s online guide to Xmas shopping, which will hopefully fulfil the needs of readers’ shopping requirements. Thank you so much for reading, and happy holidays! ♥

On another note, isn’t the blog’s falling-snow feature lovely and festive? Just the thing to put you in a Christmassy mood!

Amelia xx

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