Practical Christmas Gift Ideas For Busy Moms
Earlier this year I wrote about how one of the biggest game changers for me in 2016 was that I pretty much stopped grocery shopping. Obviously my family’s need for groceries didn’t magically disappear, but services became available so that I could have other people actually do the shopping for me. If you are trying to come up with some practical Christmas gift ideas for your wishlist (I know your relatives are bugging you for some ideas!) or are looking for Christmas gift ideas for women, this is definitely the way to go!
You guys, it’s been nothing short of magical, and I think giving a mom the gift of grocery shopping on her behalf is pretty much the most awesome thing you could imagine for her. There are several different options that could work for her, just depending on where you live and what type of groceries you like to buy. I want to highlight some of the best options for grocery pick up, grocery delivery, specialty food delivery, and meal kit delivery, along with pros and cons of each service as I see it.
Walmart Curbside Pickup
This is perhaps the most universally available option, as there are Walmart shopping centers within a 20 mile radius of pretty much everyone in the United States. The program is still rolling out, though, so not every location is currently offering the grocery pickup service, though expansion is happening quickly. To use the service, you must spend at least $30.
The major pro of this service is that there is absolutely no fee to use it. You pay the exact same price that you would if you went into the store yourself, only now you don’t actually have to do that part. A Walmart associate will shop for you, picking out each item on your list and getting it ready for you to pick up.
The major con of this service is that the groceries aren’t delivered to your home and you still have to make the trek over to the store. Another con is that I’m finding it difficult, at least for now, to secure a pick up time that is on the same day that I place my order. I typically place an order early in the morning, and even then, my first available pick up dates seem to be 24 hours later. So this is not a good option if you need something quick. If you want a more detailed look at my tips with this service, check out my Walmart Grocery Pickup review.
Shipt is available largely in the Southeast and in locations with a Publix, as that is this third party providers partner grocery chain. Shipt is how I got started with leaving grocery shopping to others, and it is a tremendous service. A $35 minimum order must be made
The major pro of Shipt is that the groceries come to you. It just doesn’t get any easier than ordering your groceries online and having them delivered right to your kitchen counter. This makes it one of the absolute best Christmas gift ideas for new moms you could possibly choose. Getting out of the house with a tiny baby is beyond overwhelming, and if the groceries can just come to you, that’s pretty huge.
I also like that the service is designed so that no money changes hands between you or your shopper; all of that is handled online (using your computer or your app) including any tip you might like to give. I typically can get my groceries the same day as I place my order, unless I place my order around 4pm or later, and then I might be out of luck until the following day. I have placed an order early in the morning on a weekday before and had the groceries on my counter within 2 hours. Score!
There are a few cons for Shipt, and they all have to do with cost. First, there is a $99/year fee to be a Shipt member. You pay that fee whether you use the service once or every other day for the entire year. Obviously the more you use the service, the more value you will get out of the membership expense. Second, the prices you see online when putting together your order are higher than what you would see in the store. There is a percentage added on to each item you buy, which is how the company makes a profit. The third con is that while you are not required to leave a tip for your Shipt shopper, you feel like a jerk when you don’t. I never know what to tip, and if I tipped using the same percentages that I use in restaurants, I simply couldn’t afford to shop with them. So I always feel like a semi-jerk even though I do tip, because I’m not sure if I really should be tipping more. Make sense?
Peapod is available largely in the Northeast, and it is something I would save my pennies up for and splurge on during the winter months when we lived in Boston over a decade ago. Peapod has actually been around since before the internet went mainstream (1989!), and it delivers your groceries to you, same as Shipt. You can find a complete list of locations on the Peapod website. It seems that the service partners with just one grocery store in each area.
The major pro I see for Peapod is that when you are shopping online, you can actually use coupons! That’s amazing!!! You can look through coupons.com or any other coupon site you like, and you can even use the Ibotta app to help you save a little more. So if the mom on your holiday shopping list might not want to give up the grocery store because she saves money on the bill with coupons, that’s a non-issue with Peapod.
The other major con of Peapod is that same day delivery is also going to be a challenge.
Thrive Market is an online only grocery store that focuses on healthy brands (largely organic, non-gmo stuff). I have been using Thrive Market for over a year now, and continue to love the quality foods we receive and the price point we pay. Shipping is always free on orders over $49.
The major pro of Thrive Market is that you have access to brands that most people can’t easily access, especially if they don’t live in large cities with specialty grocery stores. I would shop at Trader Joe’s every week if I lived near one, but I don’t, so I have to look elsewhere to find the type of peanut butter, honey, and even snack crackers I’d like to serve in my home. I did an extensive Thrive Market review including a price comparison with Amazon if you’d like to check that out. Another pro is that the company often offers a free item with a minimum purchase (the notification always comes in via email). I try to wait to place an order until there’s a freebie that I want, and that’s been a fun way to try out new products.
There are two major cons of Thrive Market. The first is that since it is online only and everything is shipped to you (via UPS), perishable items cannot be purchased this way. So a Thrive Market membership will not be sufficient for all of your grocery needs. The second con is that this, too, requires a membership ($59/year). The fee is similar to what you would pay for a Costco membership, and it is how the company is able to keep the costs lower than what you will find most anywhere else.
Amazon Prime Pantry
Amazon Prime has created a very cool online shopping option for non-perishable food and basics items you might need (everything from Cheez-Its to cat litter). You are eligible to use Prime Pantry if you already have a Prime membership.
The major pro of Prime Pantry is that you can now get many things delivered to your house at a reasonable price that used to be rather cost-prohibitive (such as cat litter, or perhaps inexpensive items that used to require a $25 minimum overall purchase to make it not a profit loss for Amazon). And in comparison to Thrive Market, This will offer a much wider variety of options (including things that are more mainstream) and it will still reach you in 2 days, whereas you’ll have to wait a bit longer for your Thrive Market box.
The major con of Prime Pantry is that you are stuck with a $5.99 shipping fee for each box you order. I’m not sure how much you can get into a box (they will let you know) but even with your Prime membership, shipping just isn’t free for these items.
Other Alternatives: Meal Kit Subscriptions
If you don’t want to go for a full grocery service option for the busy mom on your list, but you like the idea of making dinner prep a bit easier for her somehow, you might want to consider meal kit service subscriptions from Blue Apron, Home Chef or Hello Fresh. Price points per serving hover around $10, and in my experience, the meals aren’t necessarily quick or easy, but the food is quite good and almost every single item you need to put together the 3 meals that are included with each kit are on hand for you. It’s a nice treat to take the guess work out of what is for dinner, and it’s a nice treat to get to try something totally new, and that’s something you’ll be able to get with these particular subscriptions. It’s also nice to be able to create something with ingredients you wouldn’t normally buy and wouldn’t want to buy in larger quantities (for example, the pad thai dish below called for fish sauce, which I never use in cooking). Need a suggestion for which one to go for? My husband and I liked Hello Fresh the best but our kids ate the most of Home Chef, which was really nice!
Be a Hero This Christmas
If you are looking for a Christmas gift idea for mom then you should definitely consider helping her out with the chore of grocery shopping. Not having to go to the grocery store anymore honestly changed my life this year, so it very well could be her favorite gift of the year, or even the decade!