It’s the most wonderful time of the year - but the international supply chain crisis didn’t get the memo.

These days, a two-hour line to see Santa is nothing compared to the line of incoming vessels waiting outside of the Los Angeles and Long Beach shipping ports. These two shipping ports, which handle 40% of all shipping containers entering the United States, have been dealing with a bottleneck situation for months that has contributed to shortages and inflation across the country. Vessels that are waiting for entry to the ports are stuck at sea indefinitely while today’s incoming vessels packed with necessary supplies are forced to get in a line that will last at least two weeks.

Unfortunately, with dozens of ships stuck waiting to unload and dozens of ships arriving each week, the problem doesn’t end once the vessel arrives at the dock. The national labor shortage extends into all industries, including truck driver shortages, making it harder for consumers to obtain goods that are late arriving anyways. While the White House ignores the crisis, with press secretary Jen Psaki citing “the tragedy of the treadmill that is delayed,” other states are stepping up to find solutions to help their fellow citizens. Florida governor Ron DeSantis and Texas governor Greg Abbot have offered stranded vessels unloading docks in their states, explaining that their ports have the capacity and are eager to help alleviate the stress that the country has already been facing. Think about that: rerouting a vessel from California to Texas or Florida takes less time than waiting in the bottleneck line.

This disruption of global supply chains stems primarily from various countries’ experiences, politics, and policies regarding Covid-19. With lockdowns covering crucial supply chain countries such as China, Malaysia, and Vietnam, stay-at-home mandates, closed factories, and quarantined workers have all contributed to this historic event. Even though the world has been dealing with Covid-19 for over a year and a half, the supply chain issue won’t improve until mid-2022 - but Santa Claus is still coming to town in just a few weeks. Here are some ways to make sure this Christmas is still merry and bright.

Shop early

If you know what your child or loved one wants for Christmas, buy it today! You never know when things will sell out - and when they do sell out, they may not be restocked. It might feel a little stressful to get all of your shopping done early, but think of it this way: the earlier you’ve completed your shopping, the less you need to stress! Less stress means more time & energy spent enjoying all of the fun holiday activities - it’s a win-win.

Go homemade

If you’re worried about gift availability, consider going the homemade route. Compile a recipe book, make a clay mug, or knit a scarf. Check out personalized items such as puzzles, calendars, or photo books (but order early, as many of these vendors are also concerned about supply chain availability). Grandparents always love personalized gifts made from toddler's hands - check out Pinterest for some ideas!

Buy local

Many small stores are still struggling after the constant lockdowns and media-driven fear of leaving the house, making online shopping sales increase exponentially while hurting local stores that may only have one or two locations with no online option. What better way to spread the Christmas cheer than shopping at your local boutiques and specialty stores? Don’t forget about local services like car washes, massages, or nail salons. Purchasing a gift for a loved one could mean helping a family stay in business - and there’s no greater gift than that.

Don’t forget about food

Does your brother love hot sauce? Find it on aisle 12. Is your sister obsessed with Taco Bell? Buy a gift card she can use when that burrito craving hits. Trying to find the perfect gift for that out-of-town aunt who has everything? Look up the best restaurants in her area and compile them in a “to eat” list along with a gift card to encourage her to check them out. Who knows, you might introduce her to her new favorite eatery!

Give an experience

The world might be low on things, but it’s impossible to be low on possibilities when it comes to experiences. Gift a trip to the aquarium or the zoo, or consider a gift that gives year-round with a membership! When it comes to presents, oftentimes your presence is the best gift you can give. Plan an outing to a sporting event, a concert, or a movie with your parents- they’ll never forget the time you spent with them.

We should always try to look for a silver lining - maybe this supply chain crisis is the perfect time to remind your family of what Christmas is all about. In the words of Dr. Seuss, “maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” May your Christmas this year mean more than ever before.

Merry Christmas!