Keep These 5 Pandemic-Proof Shopping Tips in Mind

So you’re starting to think about holiday shopping? Us too!

First things first. DO NOT attempt to add gifting to your “to-do” list. After all, shopping for others doesn’t need to be just another task or chore to complete. You have enough on your plate already!

Thinking ahead: Keep things light, easy, fun, fresh this holiday shopping season.

Keep things LIGHT, EASY, FUN, and FRESH this holiday shopping season (better yet, keep it pleasurable year-round)! Now that that’s settled, follow Toffee + Twine’s guide to a stressless, pandemic-proof shopping experience: 1. START EARLY (AND NEVER STOP)

It’s never too early to prepare for gift giving.

Once you begin gifting, you need never stop! The simplest way to stay on top of your gift list is to keep it in the back of your mind at all times. How?

Open your eyes to realize that potential gifts are all around you.

We love the latest and greatest new gadgets just as much as the next gifter; however, uncomplicated gifts are often the most memorable and meaningful. You don’t have to go out of your way; in fact, go about your life and pick goodies up along the way.

  • In the grocery store? Pick up some flowers and drop by a friend’s home unexpectedly (stay COVID-safe and leave them on the doorstep).

  • At the farmer’s market? Grab a fresh jar of [fill in the blank, whatever looks delicious] for your co-worker who just mentioned wanting to support local businesses. P.S. Did you know there is a national directory of Farmer’s Markets? Check out the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service website.

  • Are you dining out? When your date (romantic or otherwise) goes to the restroom, ask the server if the restaurant makes a cookbook or has any recipes they share with patrons. Then, at the end of dinner, gift the book to your dinner date to concretize the evening.

And on and on goes the imagination.


If it’s too good to be true...then it probably is too good to be true.

We do the best we can, but falling prey to an online scam is sometimes inevitable (mostly since online shopping has continued to soar during COVID). According to Digital Commerce 360, online sales for September grew 43% year over year).

Follow a few simple steps (according to the FTC) to ensure you don’t get snagged by scammers.

  • Compare and be aware: if you found a “wow, this is a truly astonishing deal” kind of deal on an unfamiliar website, compare your discovery to the same item or service from a reputable website. Competitive pricing makes the world go ‘round, but a substantial price difference may point to fraud, including knock off goods.

  • Spot a fake: if you’re clicking links without much awareness, you may be directed to scam sites without even knowing it. Pay attention to the URL as you browse to ensure you’re ending up at the intended online destination. Use tools like Google’s Transparency Report to check the safe/unsafe status of all websites. Remember, legitimate e-commerce sites will always provide contact information and a privacy policy, which means that, sans that info, best to get outta there!

  • Pay with a credit card: your purchase is protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act, which means you can dispute any fraudulent charges. Credit card companies will have their dispute processes, so make sure to check that out in advance of your holiday online shopping spree.


A gift is worth 1,000 words.

In 1933, the American telegraph company Western Union began offering singing telegrams. The reason is a little grim but stick with us. At that point in history, telegrams were most commonly associated with delivering news of death or other tragedy, and the Public Relations Director thought, “Hey, let’s deliver messages via song so we can be more cheerful, fun, and popular.” A sincere thanks to you, Mr. George P. Oslin.

(Almost) a century later, the most precious gift you can give a friend, family, or loved one is the words that emerge directly from the heart. Simply put, tell them how you feel. Share your feelings of gratitude, express your appreciation for who they are, emote like you’ve never emoted before. You can write a card, a letter, a poem, or send a text. You can paint a picture, create a collage, or draw or doodle.

These words can accompany a gift, but (frankly) it’s not required. It has nothing to do with money, financial well-being, or spending power - just the simple but significant power of expression is enough.

In case you’re interested in sending a singing telegram, try American Singing Telegrams (IRL) or Jib Jab (online).


We’re SOL (Saving Our Locals!)

Mom and pop shops are dropping like flies because of the pandemic. Even with government assistance, a robust social media platform, and the initial buzz of “shopping small,” the central and most crucial difference between a businesses’ survival or extinction is whether or not you SHOW UP.

Yes, it’s often easier to Amazon your way out a need, a want, or just a refill. But, c’mon, there is something so darn charming about:

  • Walking to your neighborhood coffee shop (rain or shine)

  • Hearing the small bell jingle as you open the cranberry-painted door

  • Saying ‘ello to the barista who knows your name and order by heart

  • Grabbing your americano and deciding to take a few madeleines to go

Shall we elaborate?

Substitute coffee shop for clothing boutique, hardware store, barbershop, art gallery, or garden center...the essence is the same. So take a stroll down the block and see what gems you can discover in your own backyard.


This one is self-explanatory.

It takes not one penny and no longer than five seconds to express gratitude or kindness to the wonderful men and women who deliver: groceries, packages, medicine, mail, flowers, or pretty much anything else your heart desires or requires.

A small gesture (on top of a higher tip) goes a long way. Have you thought about offering bottled water to the stranger approaching your door? Hmm. Next time you see your USPS, UPS, FedEx, or DHL representative, ask them their name. Be that guy or gal!

Lastly, tip well (and tip often, even when not expected).


Are you pickin’ up what we’re puttin’ down? If so, subscribe to the Toffee + Twine mailing list to receive this weekly blog. Each week we tap into what’s happening in the world and in your homes to provide a unique perspective on gifts and ideas for gifting. You don’t want to miss out!

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