When to order Christmas gifts?

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Julia Moser usually waits to shop until the eleventh hour, but this year Moser said she found herself stricken with a case of “supply chain scares,” a fear that is quite contagious that the normal flow of goods to the stores where we can buy them has been completely erased thanks to the effects of the pandemic. So this time, she ordered her boyfriend’s Christmas present in mid-October. Gift? An iSi whipper. (Have you ever served fancy whipped cream on your drink at Starbucks? It’s an iSi siphon.) “He really enjoys making cocktails,” Moser said. “Apparently you can use it to brew all kinds of things for the ingredients of a cocktail. I was like ‘it is exactly the sort of thing that would be delayed at the port. ”Except not. It didn’t even take the expected shipping time when she placed her order. He came the next day.

“I usually wait until the last minute,” said Moser, who lives in Los Angeles. But over the summer she was “extremely online and saw everyone saying, ‘GET YOUR GIFTS NOW! Despite having moved beyond the supply chain, Moser now has a different problem on her hands. What to do with a gift that arrived so early? “I was too impatient to keep it for a few more months so I just gave it to her and now I have to think of another present to give her for Christmas,” she said.

Supply chain horror stories are everywhere as the holidays approach. “How the global supply chain could ruin ChristmasThe New York Times darkly announced in October. “Christmas lights need a supply chain miracle,” my colleague Aaron Mak wrote in the same month. Reports say you can expect to pay more for everything from your balsam fir at your Thanksgiving Turkey. Shipping ports are historically safeguarded and, on the other end, factories in Asia, where most of what Americans buy comes from, are subject to more frequent shutdowns due to COVID outbreaks. And lest you think, “I’m just going to shop in the store and avoid possible shipping delays,” the shelves you find will probably be more sterile than usual, thanks to, well, Following shipping delays and a nationwide labor shortage. No wonder people suddenly find themselves motivated to break the traditions of lifelong procrastination and shop early. It turns out that the fear of failure is a very good motivator when it comes to giving Christmas gifts. I already received my first Christmas card this year, well before Thanksgiving. It was from a college friend who said his wife was too nervous about delays to wait until the appropriate time of the season to order their cards.

But the fact that these gifts arrive ready to be wrapped so long before their due date poses the storage problem that Moser avoided by immediately putting the whip back on. “I’ve heard that toys are going to be hit particularly hard this year, so I get gifts for our 2.5-year-old early and put them in the cupboards,” said Alisa Richter. She described herself as someone who rarely does her shopping early, “with the possible exception of personalized gifts from Etsy.” Lucky for her, she now lives in a house with more space to store secret gifts than her previous apartment. Kat Spada still lives in an apartment, but moved to a larger one while ordering holiday gifts early, “so now there’s a big pile of boxes” in addition to the usual mess of moves . Hillary Kelly has already finished shopping for Christmas gifts for her 4-year-old, a move driven largely by supply chain concerns. “I don’t care if my kid is getting less this year, she doesn’t need a lot of things,” Kelly said. “But I didn’t want to sit still on the 24the hoping things would happen. Her daughter’s gifts are currently wrapped in sweaters at the back of Kelly’s closet. “I’m still waiting for her to find them,” she said.

So how, poor gift-buyers, do we really know what’s going to languish on the container ships for weeks, and what’s going to land on the front steps tomorrow? The most important factor, according to Emphraim Ausch, director of logistics at Tactical Logistics Solutions, is where in the supply chain your gifts are when you order them. But it’s not always something you can rate when you click “add to cart.” If the item is in stock (and the store isn’t lying) and it’s already in the country, you’re probably good to go. “Once your item is in the United States, you’re fine,” says Ausch. “UPS, FedEx, USPS, they have capacity issues, yes, but not to the point where you have to wait a month or two.” He confirms that backing up at ports like Los Angeles is the biggest problem for holiday shopping. Getting the products from the freighters to the delivery trucks was a process that took days. Now, this most ideal version of this timeline is more like weeks. According to Ausch, the first buyers who receive gifts quickly are likely to order items that were already in stock and ready for use. Not everyone who orders later will have this chance.

Early customers might not always feel so charmed when they try to manage storage space and surprise UPS deliveries. Alyssa L., who requested that her full name not be used, said she usually only received “a few first gifts, then the majority after Thanksgiving.” Alyssa’s work in book publishing, however, has given her a prominent place for shipping and production issues this year. “The supply chain problems are real! It definitely played a role this year – I only have a gift or two to buy right now, ”she said. And, naturally, anything she ordered early arrived “super fast”. She and her partner texted each other on certain days warning them not to check mail… because they had both ordered gifts for each other which had arrived faster than expected.

If that can reassure the rest of us, Ausch says many retailers have been preparing for this holiday bottleneck for months. He’s working with a customer specializing in fake Christmas trees who started ramping up their freight container shipping in June. The Port of Los Angeles is now open 24 hours a day in an attempt to reduce the backlog. (Previously it was running 18 hours a day and Ausch says he’s not optimistic six hours overtime will be the miracle the industry needs.) His advice to consumers is not to hang around if you see something. that you are thinking of buying is in stock. Even if that means having to find additional hiding places around the house.

My own version of Moser’s iSi cartridge was a pre-lit faux pine garland for my mantel, although technically it’s a gift for myself. Last year I decided to go all out with Martha Stewart and make my own with real branches and even though my living room smelled like Christmas, I was always aspirate the needles almost a year later. So at the beginning of October, I found a pretty fake garland and a rushed order. Confirmation said he would arrive after Thanksgiving. Perfect, I said to myself, I have no place to store this thing anyway. He arrived the next day. I am looking at the box as I write this.

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