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Carole Bayer Sager

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Best Online Holiday Shopping

Posted: 12/07/07 03:07 PM ET

With only 17 days left before Christmas many of us are racing around malls, department stores and our favorite shopping haunts in our local cities, buying, buying, buying for the ones we love, the ones we want to love us, and the ones we have to gift with the obligatory fruitcakes, three flavor popcorn, Mrs. Beasley baskets and fruits and cheeses.

First let me say there is virtually nothing that can be found in a store, that can not be found on the internet. Everything, you can imagine, including personalized gifts is all just a few clicks away. African bowls, Indian jewelry, authentic Japanese tea cups, handmade fairies that sit in old china cup and saucers, the list is unfathomable,

While others are frantically lined up in the cold, battling parking spaces, cutting in line, and bribing the person in front of them because they just bought the last "Guitar Hero" you can be watching Grey's Anatomy (well maybe one more until the strike cuts us off!) cuddling up with a good book, or better yet with your honey, or your pet, smiling knowingly because your gifts are shipping today (for free) and arriving by the 14th guaranteed, gift wrapped, with personal cards on top.


Here are some of the best of the gazillion online sites:

1. Surprise.com This site is really wonderful. It allows you to search for last minute gifts by either categorizing the gift, or categorizing the type of person you are shopping for. Check it out; they cover it all with great style. Need a gift for a pet lover, newly single friend, a manly man; you've come to the right place.

2. Shopzilla.com This site offers up the hottest gift of the year, plus whatever you may want to find, And then does the competitive shopping work for you; displaying all of the prices from the best outlets and lets you make your choice. Looking for the small digital Canon, bet you the price is better than any store you've been in.

3.Amazon.com , which has expanded to a virtual mall of everything.

4. ebay.com, of course.

5.mpire.com I like this site. It allows you to shop for almost anything without leaving the site. It sorts through, ebay and target, and amazon, and a myriad of other major shopping outlets and comes back to you with a pricing chart that shows whether the price is trending up or down, at both retail and at auction, so you can decide if it's the right time to buy. The "shopping companion" browser plug-in, a free download, is handy to use when you are shopping at other sites; it shows what other etailers are charging for the item you're looking at, so you can be sure to get the best deal

And for really upscale shopping:

6.eluxury.com offering luxe goods, in many categories, gifts, for her, for him, for home, for vacation, for gifts by some young designers and some mainstays like Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Celine, Pucci and Versace. Jewelry Designers and the Beauty Products all reside on this site.

7.Vivre.com At Vivre, if price is of no concern, they have wonderfully unique items from all parts of the world. It's like the best of the home items: great rattan chargers with wooden beads, hoops, glasses set in swirls of colors to spice up any gathering and baby angel wing pajamas for newborns to 9 months old.

If you're shopping and wanting to give back at the same time, there are a few great sites that allow you to do both and choose the charity your contribution goes to.

The one I liked best is called, www.Igive.com.
Which supports any charity of your choice, giving various percentages of each of your purchases to the one you have chosen. IGive lists 39645 causes to choose from and 680 plus stores including, Gap, Staples, Ebay, Lands End, Home Depot, Nordstrom, etc. Listen to Betty's little video, she will explain it to you more thoroughly.

One of my friends called me a month ago and asked me how I felt about "not" exchanging presents this year. I agreed immediately. It's not that I don't enjoy giving. I really do. And I also like receiving, no denying it. But at this time how much better I feel if I can donate even more to charities who help people and children in need, than to buy an extra sweater for friends, all of whom have enough.

So I am sending a gift of one lama and a goat to my sensible friend from
heifer.net and two families will get a chance to be sustainable. On Heifer's website one of the many ways you can help included
"Pass Along the Gift of a Better World," giving a unique gift of chicks, water buffalo, trees and more supports Heifer's work across the globe -- offering livestock, training and other resources to hungry families so that they can feed, house and clothe themselves. And because of our unique "Passing on the Gift" requirement, one gift can create a ripple effect that soon empowers entire communities to lift themselves out of hunger and poverty. Give a holiday gift that keeps giving"

It makes sense to me.

I wish everyone the happiest of shopping and may you all be blessed with knowing the true joy of giving.

For more holiday season tips , click here for more from Huffington Post's Living!