Shop Different: 5 Sites & Apps to Ease the Pain of Holiday Consumerism

Shopping is horror. The prices. The lines. The hordes of clamoring consumers. The thought of holiday shopping is, in itself, enough to make us wish for simpler days when putting coal in someone’s sock was a legitimate option.

But, whether we like it or not, we can’t Grinch out; so we’d better start thinking about the gift-giving season now and get it over with. And since your friends at ReadWriteWeb are huge geeks, we thought we’d amuse you with a few Internet-enabled oddities that might actually make your obligatory retail purgatory a little more bearable.

1) Wishzilla

If there’s anything worse than shopping for a loved one’s gift, it’s shopping for a loved one whose preferences, tastes and needs are a complete mystery. Don’t worry: it doesn’t mean you’re insensitive. You’ve just got your mind on other things.

The solution: For quick, decisive, and possible all-online gift-buying, coerce every potential gift recipient into signing up at Wishzilla. The creators of this site have kept the clear-cut, actionable sensibility of the gift registry while maintaining the element of surprise. Here’s how it works: users log in with Facebook (or create an account) and then start bookmarking their gift wishlist all over the Web. Once the list is done, it’s locked. Signed, sealed and sent to Santa. What items have been purchased and by whom remain a secret until the wrapping paper gets torn away.

Everyone wins, and no one is left feeling awkward about that good-intentioned but ill-advised sweater.

2 & 3) Customized Clothing for Him, Her, Hym, Etc.

We’ve recently been exposed to the wonderful world of e-spoke apparel. We actually just made up the term e-spoke as a portmanteau of electronic and bespoke; basically, there are a few sites out there that allow for high-quality and entirely customizable wearable goods; in fact, some of them are very forward-thinking, technologically.

For the dress shirt-wearer in your life, we have ShirtsMyWay, a site that lets the user completely customize their ideal of collared and cuffed perfection. Our Twitter research has shown that some folks find the site a little spendy; but seriously, a beautiful dress shirt designed to your exact specifications and measurements is worth the extra cost – which, we might add, is significantly less than most other customized apparel experiences.

And for your feminine side, we have Shoes of Prey. The URL alone takes no prisoners, and neither will your fierce creations. Heels on these completely customizable beasts only elevate the wearer a modest 3.5 inches at their highest, but the ability to branch beyond the dyed-satin-bridesmaid-shoe paradigm of shoe customization is more than enough incentive to check out this site.

4) Storenvy

If Craiglist, eBay and Etsy had some kind of inter-website relations and made a Web baby, it would be Storenvy. In a prettily designed community setting, users can set up buyer and seller accounts. The site is a series of independent online retailers and shoppers who browser across all of those stores at once, interacting with each other by watching what notes and ratings they leave on products and stores throughout the site. Check out the social features in action here, or just set up an account and start having fun.

Better yet, get your friends to set up accounts and thus remove some of the guesswork from gifting.

5) Regretsy, the Gag Gift You Can’t Resist & Will Never Live Down

Rubber chickens, whoopie cushions, every sadistic and horrifyingly cheap Secret Santa atrocity – none of it can match the horrors found on Regretsy. We actually feel pity for the people who buy or receive the Etsy-fueled inventory from this site. If you ever wondered what kinds of jewelry can be made from animal feces or exactly who makes embroidered toilet paper, you have found your Web-enabled holy grail. If not, well, you’re in for a good laugh and at least a few ideas for passive-aggressive office gift exchanges. Forced, semi-professional merriment will never be the same.

So there you have it, folks! You never have to leave your three-monitor array of addictive Internet connectivity to satisfy the whims of the potential gift recipients in your life. Just use these tools and a little personal judgment, and all your holiday shopping-related worries can be laid to rest.

We just hope we have a similarly good list when it comes to last-minute shopping; god knows we plan to procrastinate as long as possible, helpful tools notwithstanding.

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