The Holiday Items You Might Not Find in Stores This Season

Shipping delays and other supply chain issues may cause shortages leading up to the holidays

I know fall has barely started and you’d rather stock up on Halloween candy than think about hanging Christmas lights. But with food shortages around the country, suppliers think holiday items might get harder to find, too—and it’s best to be prepared in advance.

We’re hearing rumors of a Christmas tree shortage, but it’s not the only thing on the list. There are a few other items that you might want to buy before the holiday season.

What Stores Might Run Short On

1. Christmas Trees

The American Christmas Tree Association warned that a Christmas tree shortage was on the way in September, and has now advised everyone to buy trees earlier if possible. Retailers like Costco expect to sell fewer trees this year, and the shortage is apparently industry-wide. The shortage applies to both artificial and live trees.

The reduced supply is the result of extreme weather in the Pacific Northwest and Midwest and issues in the supply chain due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there’s no need to panic. The Association is sure that most people will still be able to get a tree this year, though it might be best to grab yours early. You can buy a live Christmas tree around Thanksgiving and keep it in good condition until the big day with proper care. If you can’t find one, opt for one of these alternative Christmas trees.

2. Christmas Decor

Garlands, ornaments and stars galore—we expect to see shelves lined with festive Christmas decor right before the holidays. Unfortunately, shipping delays haven’t just led to Christmas tree shortages, but also issues with the shiny things we use to decorate them.

Stores don’t keep Christmas decor on hand all year, and usually expect it to be shipped in the fall. Unfortunately, the delays have gotten so prolonged that decorations may not even reach store warehouses until the end of December! So if you’re looking for new things to hang on the tree, hit the stores as soon as possible. Here’s the best Christmas lights to buy according to our Test Kitchen. Of course, you could always get creative with whatever decor you’ve got around already, or choose handmade Christmas ornaments instead.

3. Gifts, Toys and Games

a shelf of toys with only a few items left; mostly empty shelf in toy storeKENA BETANCUR/Getty Images

Board games, puzzles and card games took off during the pandemic as people retreated to their homes, but now they’re one of the items most affected by the pandemic, along with other toys. While these items aren’t holiday-specific, demand for them usually goes up during the holidays as people buy gifts.

Since many components of these games and toys are made overseas, the shipping delays have been particularly hard. Rising shipping costs have resulted in higher prices, long delays and issues with preorders across the board. If you’re looking for alternatives or want to shop local, you might want to try hitting up your local Christmas markets for handmade toys.

While these issues may make Christmas a little less merry, it’s not about how you celebrate, but who you celebrate with! Check out these ideas for a small Christmas party and end the year with family and friends. You should be able to find everything your family needs for a merry Christmas! If you’re still stuck—see what stores are open on Christmas Day.

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Amrita Thakkar
Amrita is an Assistant Digital Editor at Taste of Home. As a writer and amateur photographer, she often ends up applying these skills to her one great love: food. She can usually be found researching global cuisines, at the farmers market, doing yoga, or looking up new places to travel to.