Lifestyle & Culture

Holiday Gift List #36: Trading With Trader Joe

December 21, 2021

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UNLESS YOUR definition of Christmas shopping includes full body contact, I don’t recommend waiting till Christmas Eve to stop by Trader Joe’s. Nothing against the Trader: Those long, long lines move along smartly, often with more than a dozen checkout counters.

Nonetheless . . . wading through crowds may cause you to miss out on hidden gems, and Trader Joe’s always has them. This year there seem to be fewer candies in colorful tin gift boxes, but there’s still individual Panettone Classico for $1.99, the little holiday-shape Festive Chocolate Collection ($3.99) and assorted favorites like salted caramels and nonpareils.

For guesting as opposed to giving, there’s the Brie en Croûte ($6.99)—just pop it  in the oven, and the pastry crust crisps up nicely while the Brie inside melts. Yum. The Mini Quiche Duo (six mushroom and Swiss cheese and six bacon and sweet onion) is $4.49 (buy two or more: They’ll go fast).

Trader Joe’s isn’t the only store on my list for last-minute musts. Bloomingdale’s has long been a store where I could go when desperate, knowing I could find . . . something. Williams-Sonoma is on my list as well, for those (rather pricey) tins of Peppermint Bark and other candies and the special garlic press that someone always wants. (Note: A dozen two-pound tins of peppermint bark will set you back—are you ready?—$659.40. But a regular one-pound tin is $29.95.)

Two other places always worth checking out are West Elm and CB2, the latter of which is, for some reason, focused on extravagant sport and exercise stuff this season (like what? like a 12-pound white marble kettlebell for $69.95).

And don’t forget your local supermarket and drugstore. Both have “seasonal” aisles jammed with clever gifts—things stylish enough no one will guess you got it at Whole Foods or New Jersey’s ShopRite.

But it is time to get moving. Forget ordering online at this point (unless your stomach is made of sterner stuff than mine). Look online so you can triangulate your moves, then get out there and into the store. Any store.

—Nancy McKeon


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