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by Kathy LaFollett

Copyright © 1998 Kathy LaFollett. All rights reserved.

Christmas '98 will be known as the Season of the Internet! We can all celebrate buying, sending and trading in the name of Yuletide!

Let's face it. Why should I get in my car and drive all over Peoria, shopping? Braving the dangers of crashing shopping carts, angry grandmas who can't find Furby, and the rapid aging effects of long lines?? I have the Internet!

With one click and a credit card I can shop from the comfort of my home, viewing products found around the world that will impress my family and friends. It's a Wonderful Excite has links to every e-commerce heaven known to cyberman.

I can get anything (except Furby) and get it Fed-Exed at that! There's etoys for the kids, Spiegel for my mom and sisters, and, of course, SBE's Exotic Garden Seed Online for my dad. Santa's got nothing on me! He has insurance, 401k, and taxes to pay for on all those employed elves. But me? Ha-ha! I have no expenses but cost per item and online access through FGInet.

It's December 4th and I haven't even looked at the mall. When I get hungry while shopping, I just walk into my kitchen and grab a Christmas snack! Forget screaming kids and annoying lines at a fast-food joint. Speaking of snacks, you can get food shipped for Christmas gifts too! Greatfood has yummy offerings that tempt the taste buds and can sit in a box for shipping. Worldfood has great recipes and links to support purchasing those necessary ingredients to prepare delicious holiday fare. Julia Child is green with envy right now. "What a lovely bouquet!" she'd say. That's right Julie, and I still haven't left my house!

What meal would be complete without wine? has links to any type, year or producer you may want. Of course, those individuals who need to bone up on their knowledge of the French elixir can look to You can even drink a spot of the bubbly while you shop. No worries about driving anywhere.

I have a friend who just had a baby, so I jump on Webclothes and order a new outfit for her son and have it gift-wrapped. Now that's Yuletide cheer! And for that well-planned individual who's really in the Christmas spirit, visit Pack & Send for bows, gift wrap, tags, mailing support…the works!

I know some nay-sayers will scream "Scrooge!" and claim that I've advocated taking the Christmas spirit out of the season. Au contraire! I have reinstated the freedom to enjoy Christmas -- minus the Christmas traffic. Hey, when it comes to retail, Christmas starts in September, and Toys 'R Us starts brainwashing kids via television in August! (You can't argue that one. Look at Tickle-Me-Elmo in '97, and Furby this year.)

I've also decided to go cyber for Christmas cards this year. I hate licking envelopes and despise the hassles of going to the post office to buy stamps. Homearts has a great site for animated, sound-enhanced cards for all occasions.Gogreet also has a great little site for all kinds of email cards and postcards. You'll need to inform friends and family you won't be leaving your house for Christmas '98 and therefore, they need to get online. If they really are your friends and family, they'll invest in a computer and ISP in order to receive your love and Christmas cheer.

What holiday would be complete without a Christmas tree? Horticultural Commodities will allow you to listen to some guy sing "Oh Christmas Tree" (over and over and over until you want to die), and order a tree and wreath set. You'll also learn all about the history of the North Carolina Christmas tree, as well as learn tips on how to care for it, decorate it and water it. You'll even be introduced to the many varieties of trees.

So, let's review. We have our gifts, wrappings, food, wine, cards, tree and wreaths ordered. And we haven't left the house yet! Now that I'm thinking about it, you all owe me an email Christmas card of thanks for this information. But wait! We're missing something. We still need lights and tree decorations!

Do not despair, Christmas colleagues! First, let's discuss safety for the Holiday season. The University of Louisville has a site outlining necessary precautions this December. Print this out. Now that we have our guidelines in our laps, let's surf to the ChristmasMarket. Don't forget lights, candles, nativity scenes, pictures, bows, candy canes (of all shapes, sizes and flavors), and the ever-popular Christmas stocking! Of course, this site has all the fixings to fill those lovable stockings, too.

Now for the pièce d'résistance! If you have little ones in the house, you know Dad will have to dress up like Santa. Disguise the Limit has all your holiday costumes. What little whippersnapper wouldn't love to wake up Christmas morn to Santa, Frosty the Snowman, or even Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?

Finally, let's not forget Christmas music. I highly recommend Elvis' "Blue Christmas" and "Santa's Red Cadillac," but for those connoisseurs of fine tunes, who prefer the traditional side of the year, visit Christmas! Christmas! where you'll be entertained by an organ symphony of "fa-la-las" while you shop. Or, if you're still sipping a fine wine, enjoy the Boston Consortium rendition of traditional music with the fife, lute, viol, and cittern.

I believe that covers all our bases. Yes, 'tis truly the season to be jolly! Enjoy this Christmas season and take advantage of the great Web while you're at it, 'cause next year we're all going to crash with the Y2K problem. Including Santa.

I need to go now. There are three UPS trucks and two FedEx vans in my driveway unloading boxes on my front lawn. Which leads me to one more thought. Make sure you create a list of names containing who gets what gifts. I wish I had.


Kathy LaFollett is a business partner and co-founder of one of Central Illinois' premier contingency and retained executive placement firms, as well as a technical and generalist recruiter with 12 years' experience in marketing and sales.


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