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Holiday shopping online

This column originally ran in ComputorEdge on November 19, 2004
(Issue 2247, Gifts Galore)

This year, economists are predicting another banner year for online shopping. While retail sales have been flat of late, the online economy continues to grow at a rapid clip.

The Internet is, today, a virtual mall of unlimited proportions – to the point that you can, if you're willing to look a little, find just about anything online.

Take the ubiquitous Christmas stocking. Sure, you can find your run-of-the-mill Christmas stocking at the local discount store, or make your own custom one with a trip to the local craft shop.

But what about buying a cowboy-boot Christmas stocking? You can find one at the All Christmas – Western Southwest shop – yes, that URL is a pain; thank Microsoft's Web server design for that gibberish).

The will sell you an Ohio State or University of Florida stocking (and about four other teams, as I recall).

Dog in the house? How about a paw-shaped Christmas stocking?

You just couldn't make that kind of quick progress at the mall – too much walking is involved.

Shopping cross-country

And for regional favorites, short of driving cross-country or trying to track down the appropriate catalog, the Internet is about our only option.

For instance, if you have family or friends from Maryland, you could get them the dipped-in-chocolate Bergers Cookies. They offer secure online ordering – and as the kids and I discovered this past summer, they are a decadent treat.

If you've got someone on your gift list from the Cincinnati area, Skyline Chili offers a variety of gift packs and other Skyline souvenirs. Cincinnati may not be known for its hot sauce, but the Skyline variety is pretty darn tasty.

And while New Orleans is known for its hot sauces, it's also known for its pralines. The world-famous New Orleans Pralines shop also offers online shopping and will ship just about anywhere.

Must be in the front row

Another good holiday present is tickets to the latest event. Buying direct can be pricey, though. A new site, however, takes a different angle – lets folks who have bought tickets to an event (particularly season ticket holders to concert series and sports teams) sell their unwanted tickets.

So if you're a Chargers season-ticket holder, but don't feel like risking life and limb to attend theRaiders game, you can now sell your tickets to some younger, stronger, braver Raiders fan.

The traditional

Of course, you'll want a train set to put up around the tree. While HO and N Gauge are wonderful scales for working in model trains, for the Christmas tree, you want a large, oversized Lionel set. Lionel now has its own online store. With secure online ordering, you don't need to hung around the mall or second-hand shops anymore.

You can even buy canned haggis – the Scottish holiday delicacy – online at, although the ingredients looked a little iffy to me. (And what on earth is "vegetarian haggis"?)

While I couldn't find any lutefisk, the equally unique Norwegian holiday delicacy, I did find a mustard for your lutefisk.

And of course, a good (?) fruitcake is essential to the holidays. Harry and David actually offer a selection of different fruitcakes. They don't explain why, however.

The tacky

Finally, some treats of Christmases past just aren't as easy to find as they used to be. Take the aluminum Christmas tree circa 1958, with the color wheel to change the tree from red to blue to yellow to green. Outside of eBay, where could you find one?

Well, Hammacher Schlemmer carries one. They've even got the color wheel.