Christmas Tradition | Girls Holiday Outlet Shopping

Sunday, November 19, 2017

I am big on routines and traditions. My childhood is full of family traditions while growing up in Manila. My life as an adult, my friendships, family and relationship with Mr Sweetie are full of rituals and traditions. Traditions  make me feel loved, happy and secure in this confusing and unstable world. They help create beautiful memories that my loved ones and I can count on to happen again and again that also bring comfort.

One of the holiday traditions that my girlfriend Jax and I look forward to (like Christmas!)  is going on a yearly Christmas outlet shopping. Except for one year, we have been going on this "shop till you drop" trip for over 10 years every December without fail, rain or shine, literally!

On our most recent trip just few days ago,  we  tried to reminisce when our very first outlet shopping was.  My earliest memory goes back to about 12 years ago when her son was only a year old.  She guesses that it was even before she had him.

Once again this year, we went on another fun trip. We have tried a couple of outlets over the years until we settled on San Francisco Premium  Outlets. (This is  sort of misleading as San Francisco Premium Outlet is located about an hour away from San Francisco.) It is located in Livermore, CA. Read:  Wineries

Our go-to used to be  Vacaville Premium Outlet but it is too far from us who live in the Oakland/Berkeley area which is just less than half on hour from San Francisco. Plus, Vacaville Outlet is looking a little run down as it is older.  

We also went to Gilroy Premium Outlet once or twice because it was closer to where her parents live. (By the way, Gilroy is known for its Garlic Festival in July.) We played hooky that day from work. We dropped off her son who was then only maybe a year old at her parents' house. After shopping she asked me to store her loot in my car until I brought them to work a few items at a time  because she did not tell her husband that we skipped work to go shopping all day! LOL! Fun times! (Jax's husband: Hope you can  forgive us just in case you find out now 10+ years later!)

Three years ago we  fell in love with Livermore (San Francisco) Premium Outlets. It is just about 30 minutes away from where we live plus it is reversed traffic.  This outlet is now our go-to. It is  beautiful and still a fairly new shopping  center with great high end stores. 

Just like every outlet that I have been to, it is outdoors and located in the sprawling suburbs. This particular outlet has plenty of spaces to sit down and relax your achy legs. There are outdoor fire pits, patio chairs and beautiful sculptures. These nooks and crannies are also great to park your not-so-interested/"I hate shopping" boyfriend/husband/partner/parents while you are going cray from store to store.  

Jax and I established a tradition over the years -- she drives, I take care of lunch. She  would pick  me up from my house at 9:30ish. We catch up while she is driving as we only see each other once a year. As soon as we arrive at the outlets, we power walk to the first store until we get separated, find each other again, communicate by text, meet up to unload our stuff in the car, drive to another section,  etc. 

By around  1  pm, we are tired, happy and starving. We take a break by driving to the next city at this tapas restaurant where we re-fuel over a yummy lunch, (I) drink wine then drive to the outlets again to shop some more until around 5 pm which by then we could not feel our legs anymore.

This year Jax and I went a week before Thanksgiving because my December schedule is already packed. Traffic was a little bad because of the storm and we arrived before 11 am. We were surprised that the parking lots were already full, and on a stormy day as well! It rained hard just like last year but it did not deter us.

I just wanted to just take it easy during this trip.   I did not really have a shopping list. I was not really in the mood yet to shop for presents. I wanted to buy things for myself instead but of course, ended up buying gifts for my friends and sisters. I did not even buy the usual Ralph Lauren shirts for Mr Sweetie that I get him every year. This laid-back approach really made this trip relaxing and without pressure. 

Instead of running head on to stores in front of us, I stopped at Starbucks first for breakfast.  Jax did not want coffee and wanted to dive into some serious shopping. Who could blame her?! I ended up sitting for a spell drinking peppermint mocha and eating a beef and tomatillo egg breakfast wrap. What a cozy coffee me time moment it was.

It is during this yearly shopping trip that I load up on winter gear for myself. As always I bought myself a pair of pj's from J Crew (a yearly tradition) as well as a scarf. I bought  sweaters and  another scarf at Gap, a dress at  Aeropostale and a sweater from American Eagle, and blouses from random stores. I skipped shopping for boots this year because I was too lazy to carry them around. I ordered a pair at instead before I went on this shopping spree. My biggest wins were stuff from Kate Spade for my friends and family. I am like a hyperactive kid who is high on sugar whenever Kate Spade has a great sale.

At around 1 pm, we had our lunch at Copa Cobana where we had hummus, roasted brussel sprouts, patatas bravas and coconut shrimp. I skipped wine this time. 

At 4:30 pm, we declared the day a successful shopping trip. We drove back home in the rain. (It was storming hard all day!) Jax dropped me off in front of my house, gave me my present, and promised that we will see each other next year sooner than our yearly girls' holiday outlet shopping trip.This year's shopping was so much fun  as always. I did not go home with as many bags but I got what I wanted. I got enough stuff to keep me warm this year. It was fun that I got to shop for beautiful things, They made me happy for a moment. The most important thing however, is creating another beautiful memory of friendship with one of my life-long friends. This yearly holiday shopping trip is a special and beloved tradition of our friendship. I hope to continue to go on this holiday outlet spree with Jax year after year until we become little "fashionista" old ladies.  I thank the Lord for the blessing of a loyal friend for life and beautiful rainy days like this day. 

Premium Outlets in the Bay Area by distance from Downtown San Francisco
  • Gilroy Premium Outlets: About 1.5 hours
  • Vacaville Premium Outlets: About 1 hour and 20 minutes
  • San Francisco Premium Outlets (Livermore, CA): About 45 minutes 
Holiday Outlet Shopping Tips
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes because you will be trying on a lot of clothes and shoes, and you will want to take them off/put back on easily. I always wear my old Uggs, sweater and leggings.
  • Do not worry if it is raining. You can jump from store to store without getting really wet as there are plenty of eaves and shelter. Just wear a light raincoat.  
  • There is a food court at these outlets but Jax and I want to lunch in style as well so we leave the outlets for better food. :)

Some of my favorite stores at the SF Outlet:  Kate Spade (my ultimate fave because the sales are awesome!),  Ralph Lauren (for Mr Sweetie's polo shirts), Banana Republic (for sweaters), J Crew (pj's and sweaters)  Gap (for my baby nephew), Ann Taylor, L'Occitane (another fave), and  Yankee Candle!

11.16.17, Stormy Fall Thursday