Massages, spa treatments, aromatherapy, make-overs. Just the kind gifts we stressed-out, workaholic Washingtonians need this holiday season. But can you find this kind of stuff on the World Wide Web, or must you induce further stress by hitting the mall? It can be a challenge. For example, type "massage" into search engines and you'll need to carefully dodge copious porn sites. So, just as you'd ask your friends to recommend a good car mechanic or doctor, I found the best way to find some of these personal gift sites is by word of mouth.
My friend Karen told me about Violet (www.violet.com). Turns out it's a site packed with items geared toward self-rejuvenation--even the site's own search engine gets in on the act. The "psychic search" will guide you to gifts in such areas as "Soothe Him" or "How to Get That Zen Experience." Some suggestions for the latter: a $17 talking photo frame and--yes, it's back--soap on a rope.
So, now that your yin and yang are aligned, it's time for that make-over. My gal pals say head to Eve.com (www.eve.com), an upscale makeup mecca. I found it to be very hip. Plus, when you register and list your top beauty concerns (it covers everything from cellulite to dry cuticles) you get free samples. I loved clicking through the pages of options but found my Web makeup venture a little frustrating. The colors looked great on my monitor, but what if the shade I pick makes me look like Cruella De Vil? I think I prefer going to makeup counters and testing their products in person. I did order some lip balm, and while the transaction was easy enough, I was left wondering how long it would take for my order to arrive. While the site sends you an e-mail confirming your order quickly, you get only vague shipping info.
Time to chill out with some aromatherapy. My friend Shannon says candle lovers should go to Wicks' End (www.wicksend.com). I checked, and the site's supply is diverse. But be aware of one drawback with this kind of Web shopping--since there's no scratch-and-sniff option on monitors (yet), you'll have to believe their scented candles really do smell the way the blurbs on the site claim.
Finally, if candles aren't the things to de-stress you, then head to FragranceNet.com (www.fragrancenet.com) for the real thing. I checked the price of the Chanel perfume my mom wears, and it was a tad cheaper than I can find it in a local department store. So I'll be back. Shh--don't tell!