Anti-shopper’s guide to holiday gift-giving

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By Mari Taketa

How to tell if you’re an anti-shopper:

  • Crowds drive you insane.
  • Crawling around looking for parking drives you insane.
  • You think all those people crowding shopping malls and crawling around looking for parking are insane.

If you’re like me, you hate shopping but love giving gifts. We may be a minority (are we?), but we’re people too: We have family, friends and co-workers on our lists and years of goodwill and tradition to maintain.

So for you out there, fellow anti-shoppers trying to survive the season when American consumerism goes into overdrive, here are my eight tips for getting through with sanity intact.

Tip 1. It’s obvious: Shop online. But you can go one better. lets you buy through major retailers like and Bed Bath and Beyond and will donate a small percentage of proceeds to a favorite non-profit. You can even list a non-profit if it’s not there.

Tip 2. Shop where you shop anyway: Longs, Costco, the supermarket. I’m not kidding. Have you seen what can fill a gift basket from a supermarket bin? Beautiful cheeses, smoked ahi spread, mac nut-basil pesto (make sure to tell the recipient to refrigerate the basket). Longs is fantastic for overseas gifts like furikake potato chips, coffee-glazed mac nuts, 100 percent Kona coffee, even slipper-shaped cloth mops that you swish around the floor with your feet.

Tip 3. Shop off-hours. At malls, your best bet for scoring parking will be in the morning when shops open, or dinner time or later (Ed Morita snapped this shot of Ala Moana Center this past Sunday at 6). From Dec. 10, major malls on Oahu will stay open until 10 p.m.; here’s a list of their hours.

If you’re a night owl, Longs, Safeway and Don Quijote have 24-hour stores.

Tip 4. Suck it up and pay the $6 for valet parking at Ala Moana. It’s on the mauka side of mall level near Genki Sushi. Making your way there might be a slight hassle, but after that you’re home free.

Tip 5. Make gifts. Handmade gifts take more work, but they’re unique, people remember them, and they keep you away from malls. One year I made candlesticks; other years I’ve made crunchy fried walnuts laced with cinnamon and cayenne. Most popular have been the small cookbooks I made from my own recipes and packaged with cute salad forks or serving spoons.

Tip 6. Give gift certificates. Major retailers like Best Buy sell these online. Macy’s, Forever 21 and others will email gift cards to recipients. Drugstore or supermarket gift cards are practical for anyone. If you eat out a lot, you won’t have to drive out of your way for restaurant certificates. Some larger restaurants have websites where you can buy the certificates; others will take credit card payment over the phone and mail them to you. Costco sells discounted certificates for Ruby Tuesday, CPK and Big City Diner.

Tip 7. Shop on vacation. I realize this won’t help you before Dec. 25, but keep it in mind for the rest of the year. For anti-shoppers, browsing is a lot more fun when you’re somewhere faraway and exotic. Just keep it small and light. I’ve given wine stoppers from South Africa and scarves from Singapore. And it makes even a small gift special when the card says, “Saw this in SF and thought of you — Merry Xmas!”

Tip 8. Last tip because I’ve been told it’s “too goody two-shoes” (what’s a newer way of saying that?), but it’s what I did last year: Donate to non-profits in your friend’s name. I cleared this with everyone first. Money I would have spent on presents went to the Hawaiian Humane Society (for my friends who hate animals), the Institute for Human Services (for the friend who has everything) and Lanakila Meals on Wheels (for the friend who eats out a lot).

But people, the shopping season is still young! So far I’ve bought only one present, and that was because I needed a photo of it for an upcoming gallery. If you have any tips that would help me and other anti-shoppers, post them in our comments, please!

— Mari Taketa is a regular Nonstop contributor who loves to eat much more than shop.

Recent In the bag blog posts
Sales bring out the beast
Christmas shopping for a large family
Cyber Monday… my kind of shopping
Survived Black Friday?
Welcome to In the Bag


Mari ... nice blog ... contining on a theme from your buddy Melissa, last time I went to my cousin's house (different flavors) I took four pints of Graeters ice cream and two boxes of Two Brothers (local brand) choco truffles from one of our local supermarket chains. Don't think I've seen a bigger smile on her face.


Hello Mari, My wife is a shopper not me but I do go with her. We bake a lot of cookies and rum cakes for gifts too every year.


I used to work retail years back and the worst time of the year was Christmas. I really didn't like Christmas for all the comments you made...crowds, parking, attitudes, the list goes on and on. Now days I avoid the malls like a plague days after Thanksgiving and never...ever...go shopping on a "Black Friday". I do about 90% of my shopping online and it's been working great for me. Once in a while I'll hit the malls but now it's just to look at the Christmas decorations.


i use your strategy this time of year. i hate to shop, but i love to watch others shop.

i love being in the crowds during the holiday shopping rush, for the same reason i love being in Vegas; the noise and the activity. everybody is busy persuing their own agenda. i feel like i'm rolling through a mass of happy humanity.


Hi my name is Ynaku, and I'm an anti-shopper

I dislike crowds when I'm trying to shop. Parking is such a hassle too.

I go to Hilo Walmart either early in the morning or after 5 pm (when most are trying to go home)
Prince Kuhio Plaza in Hilo isn't too bad.
Good tips on where to shop.

nonstopmari moderator

@MoOgooGuypAN i actually don't mind the malls ard 8pm. u get parking, no maneuvering thru hordes, get shopping done, look at all the displays, grab a bite or drink w/o hassle. day AFTER xmas is another day to def avoid.

nonstopmari moderator

@turkfontaine my strategy for rolling thru masses of happy humanity is to stay in the wake of a large person. they run interference for me.