Aside from the sick and twisted who get their holiday shopping done while the temperature's still in the double digits, these are dark days for procrastinators.The longer you wait, the more disturbing are the hordes of shrieking children and zombified shoppers at the malls, who walk slowly down the aisles, reeking of panic. Retreating to the isolated, occasionally violent world of simulated reality that your XBox or high-speed Internet connection provides seems like a natural way to block out the holiday shopping insanity.
Thankfully, it's still possible to get most of your shopping done without leaving your home. Recent studies suggest that more than one million Canadians will do at least some of their Christmas shopping online this year, and though time is tight, most Internet retailers still guarantee pre-Christmas delivery on orders placed by this weekend.
While Web sites of every design crashed and burned, Net retailers (at least those who know what they're doing and are selling something people actually want to buy) have survived in part because they eliminate the parking rage and cart fury of going out in public. Crucially also, secure sites and instant exchange programs like PayPal have made online shopping easy and safe.
Everyone has their own favourite e-tailers. The following are sites I regularly abuse my credit card on. Happy spending.
What started out as a bookseller has simply become the world's largest shopping mall, selling everything you can imagine. Quick service, worldwide shipping and a disturbingly deep inventory make it an essential holiday stop.
Crowds aside, there is no excuse for not supporting your local independent bookseller.
But if you're hopelessly addicted to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and fear the outdoors, Chapters can get you sorted.
Perhaps the best record store on the planet for obscure, head-scratching music from around the world. Deep like a well and with super-efficient shipping.
The hub for mainstream music. The extensive bios and downloadable sound samples of each record are a nice touch.
For the rare-groove fan in your life. The funkiest music from America, Brazil, Africa and beyond.
Comprehensive stock of virtually any DVD that special someone's after, plus helpful lists on what's coming out and what's been deleted.
Worth visiting only if you're absolutely stuck or you know someone who likes frilly gift baskets.
If you can handle the bidding stress, this is the best way to buy everything from odd, out-of-print books, records, antiques and clothing to Eminem's childhood home. Buyer beware, but you knew that already. firstname.lastname@example.org