Retail

The Cure For Holiday Gift Shopping Fatigue    

As the holiday shopping season officially reaches the halfway mark, consumers around the world have hit the holiday wall: they’re tired of buying things for other people.

This is not to say that giving isn’t great. We love buying gifts for others, and we do believe that giving is one of the purer joys of the holiday season. After all, there is something undeniably heartwarming about the fact that Americans will spend $1 trillion doing it this year, according to research from Deloitte.

But, that said, with Christmas still two weeks away, shopping for those gifts has now become exhausting. When that happens, the best antidote is buying oneself a present as a reward for being so thoughtful and generous towards others.

For those feeling that holiday gifting fatigue setting in, or who we might have just been given permission to feel fatigued, we have some ideas for giving your most favorite person — you — a very thoughtful gift.

Christmas Tree Frappuccino

Remember the Unicorn Frappuccino? That was Starbucks’ specialty drink release this summer that offered patrons the chance to drink something that looked like a sparkly pink and blue lava lamp. It was, notably, a flavor only Instagram could love, but that didn’t stop the drink from selling out — or plunging countless Starbucks employees into existential crises as they tried to keep up with demand. The Unicorn Frappuccino was so popular, in fact, that Starbucks promised and/or threatened that we had not seen our last of the specialty beverages.

“Just stay tuned, because we have a lot more coming,” said Howard Shultz, former Starbucks CEO, during an earnings call.

Well, he meant it. Halloween saw the Zombie Frappuccino and, in honor of Christmas, the Christmas Tree Frappuccino is now among us.

The good news is that it seems this time Starbucks had some regard for how its specialty drink would taste. The drink is actually a Peppermint Mocha Crème Frappuccino topped with matcha whipped cream that has been styled to look like a Christmas tree — decorated with caramel drizzle, candied cranberries and a strawberry. Most reviews of the flavor have been positive, though the consensus is that it is very sweet.

No, its main problem seems to be the opposite of the Unicorn Frappuccino — it tastes fine but really does not photograph all that well.

One food blog described it as resembling “an avocado toast crammed into a glass of chocolate milk…. or a bright green volcano erupting in a sea of cocoa. The top part, at least, looks like how a kindergartner might draw a Christmas Tree.”

Ouch.

In fairness, as the picture to the left denotes pretty clearly, the in-store execution on this drink may be leaving something to be desired. To paraphrase Charlie Brown, it’s not a bad little drink really. It just needs a little love to look more the way it is supposed to.

Okay, maybe a lot of love.  

The Christmas Tree Frappuccino, for those looking for a personal holiday indulgence in the form of a massive sugar rush, is only around for a limited time. The drink made its way into the world on Dec. 7 and will be gone for the season as of Dec. 11.

We honestly can’t wait to see what Starbucks comes up with for New Year’s Day.

Star Wars Winter Gear

Options abound in gifts for the Star Wars fan out there. Apparel, toys, models, home goods — Disney has not been shy about licensing America’s favorite space epic since it acquired ownership in 2012.

We can’t even pretend there is a dearth of high-end Star Wars stuff out there, either. If one happens to have $4,000 laying around, for example, one could obtain a very authentic, handcrafted lightsaber replica.

While that is an undoubtedly awesome expenditure of money, it probably lacks some practicality. In fact, this is the problem with buying most higher price tag Star Wars items: at some point, the purchaser will have to explain why, exactly, he or she felt building the Death Star out of Legos was an experience worth paying $500 to enjoy.

But a coat? Everyone needs a coat. A coat is the most practical thing in the world to buy in December. If those coats just happen to resemble the coats Luke, Leia and Han Solo wore on the ice planet of Hoth during The Empire Strikes Back — well, all the better, really.

The new Columbia Echo Base collection includes two jackets and a parka. All three pieces are waterproof and made out of Columbia’s patented heat-preserving Omni-Heat reflective fabric. For the record, Columbia had a similar promotion last year, with outerwear designed to look like the costuming from Rogue One.

The two big limitations are price and availability. The jackets retail for $400 apiece, and Columbia only made about 2,000 of them. As of yesterday — approximately two hours into their on sale time — all three Star Wars items were entirely sold out on Columbia’s website.

They’re still available on eBay, of course, but at double the price.

The Ugliest Christmas Sweater

Prepare yourself to read a sentence that no one should ever be expected to read:

The team at Liquid-Plumr — yes, the product one uses to clean hair clogs out of a shower drain — has designed and sent to market the ugliest Christmas sweater of 2017 — and possibly in all of history.

Liquid-Plumr has created the limited-edition Cheeky Cheer Collection, and has apparently sought to answer a question that no one ever thought to ask: Can buttcracks be festive?

Surprisingly, the answer to that is yes.

The Cheeky Cheer sweaters, inspired by a recent ad campaign, boast three variations: Back-Shelf Elf, Snowball Booty and Baby Got Ginger Back. We would try to describe them, but honestly English doesn’t have words for a statement this profound. 

As it turns out, though, this promotion isn’t quite a zany as it may sound. After all, the holiday season is a very busy time for the Liquid-Plumr team because crowded houses often yield clogged pipes.

“Having a house full of guests for the holidays really warms the heart … but it can also clog your drains,” Liquid-Plumr said. “With additional friends and family over, there’s more hair and soap scum buildup. And, with more people means more food, more cooking and more grease that clogs those drains.”  

The brand advises consumers to buy its sweaters at liquidplumr.com/cheekysweaters or directly on eBay and “get ready to be the best dressed Plumr with the cleanest pipes around.”

It also suggests they buy its drain cleaning product at their local grocery stores.

So, what have we learned about treating ourselves this holiday season? Starbucks is on your side, as long as you actually want to drink the beverage, not photograph it. The Force can be with you, but only if you are willing to pay an eBay scalper. Also, literally everyone is going into the apparel business these days — and sometimes an out-of-the-box perspective yields really good ideas.

Other times it leads to buttcrack sweaters, but they all can’t winners.

Get yourself something nice.

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