FARGO — It's the most wonderful time of the year. Families around the Fargo-Moorhead area have been searching sales and gathering gifts for months and months — carefully selecting each item to suit the personality and preference of each name on their list, wrapping every item in colorful paper and adjusting the labels just so.

Not only is it the most wonderful time of the year, it's the most prepared and organized time of the year.

HA. Right. Good one. Maybe in a perfect world it is, but life definitely gets in the way.

There's so much going on this time of the year. Not only that, but when it comes to finding the "perfect gift" for that special someone, where do you even begin?

Fortunately, West Acres Shopping Center in Fargo is offering a new service this year to help shoppers find those perfect presents.

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Personalized shopping

Each year, West Acres releases a gift guide full of items and ideas meant to excite even the finickiest of recipients. In the past, customers could find the guide on the mall's blog. However, the mall is shaking things up a bit this holiday season.

Using social media, the team at West Acres recently launched the mall's 2019 Personalized Gift Guide service.

"So we are allowing people to DM (direct message) us and ask for personalized gift ideas," says West Acres' social media coordinator, Heidi Moore.

Customers are invited to send information about that special someone they're shopping for — things like interests, hobbies and sizes — along with their budget, to the West Acres Instagram page (@westacresmall) from now through the end of the holiday season.

"Once we have the information, our team goes into the stores and acts as Santa's elves and finds the perfect gift for people on their lists," says Moore. "We will head into the stores, maybe send some photos, give you the price points of the gift ideas that we love and reply back to you in hopefully a couple of hours (after the first message)."

Heidi Moore, social media coordinator for West Acres Shopping Center in Fargo, talks about the mall's new Personalized Gift Guide service for the holidays. Alyssa Goelzer / Special to The Forum
Heidi Moore, social media coordinator for West Acres Shopping Center in Fargo, talks about the mall's new Personalized Gift Guide service for the holidays. Alyssa Goelzer / Special to The Forum

Moore says this switch to a social media-driven gift guide is part of the team's strategy to represent what West Acres really is. Daily posts on the mall's Instagram and Facebook accounts ensure customers know all of the exciting things that are offered in each of the more than 100 stores and services that call the shopping center home.

"We are all about making sure when people message us on social media and on our website that they know that there's real people reading the messages and that we care about them and that we are here for them," she says. "So this is the perfect way for us to really personalize their shopping experience."

Don't have Instagram? No problem. Moore says they're willing to help on any platform.

"(Customers) can do the same process on Facebook rather than Instagram, and they can also reach us through our website," she says. "We have a contact form on there that they can fill out — that's just westacres.com."

Holiday HQ

Personalized shopping isn't the only special offering by the mall this holiday season. A coat and package check, wheelchair rentals and gift wrapping is also available.

Kiwanis members Chuck Burman and Orian Fjestad help wrap gifts in West Acres Shopping Center on Dec. 6. Alyssa Goelzer / Special to The Forum
Kiwanis members Chuck Burman and Orian Fjestad help wrap gifts in West Acres Shopping Center on Dec. 6. Alyssa Goelzer / Special to The Forum

And those are just some of the amenities. Special events, performances (including pictures with Santa) and more happen almost every day throughout the mall.

"Oh my gosh, there's so much going on," Moore says. "We have the Cozy Corner, of course. It's been so fun to walk past here, there's always people taking photos and there's a perfect photo-op here. We also have the mailboxes."

Special Delivery Mailboxes are set up in the Cozy Corner area of the mall, just off the food court, where shoppers can pop in and write messages for those in our community who may need a bit of holiday cheer. The notes are then deposited in one of the five mailboxes dedicated to local organizations that will disperse them to the community.

Guests can write a letter to various local organizations inside West Acres Shopping Center's Cozy Corner. The notes of encouragement and joy will be distributed to individuals around the community who are involved with these organizations to help spread a little holiday cheer. Alyssa Goelzer / Special to The Forum
Guests can write a letter to various local organizations inside West Acres Shopping Center's Cozy Corner. The notes of encouragement and joy will be distributed to individuals around the community who are involved with these organizations to help spread a little holiday cheer. Alyssa Goelzer / Special to The Forum

"They've been so cool," Moore says. "We also have the green mailbox, which is a little different — that one is filled with notes from our staff. So if someone is walking through here and is maybe having a tough day or is going through something this holiday season, they can grab some joy."