CHELMSFORD -- With Christmas Day falling on a Wednesday this year, Manic Monday was in full swing around the Greater Lowell area this week as shoppers scrambled to check off their Christmas to-do list.

Shoppers were out throughout the day hunting for bargain deals, while several said they felt the Christmas spirit was alive and well, even with a steady drizzle pouring outside the Chelmsford Mall shopping plaza.

"With all the violence I've seen in the newspapers and stuff, and I think it's really tough on people who are out of work, I think I'm more apt to lean toward the Christmas spirit as giving rather than receiving this year," said Carolyn Demers, a Lowell resident for the last 28 years.

Demers, who works at Lowell High School, said she's looking forward to visiting with her grandchildren this holiday, and she was out shopping in Chelmsford Monday for a few last-minute stocking stuffers.

With the holiday season in full swing, she said she's reflecting on the harder times this year too, including the Boston Marathon bombings. She said her husband is a runner and the event hit them hard emotionally.

"He happened to be there and he was lucky to have not run," she said. "We count our blessings."

Matt Decker, of Athol, who works in Lowell, was inside Michael's buying wrapping paper and other items Monday afternoon. He said he, too, was reflecting on the good times this year.

"People are in a good mood," he said. "There's a lot of baking going on, cookie swaps. To break it down (I'm hoping) just for good health and good times. That's all I ever ask for."

Some shoppers said they were looking to get more into the holiday spirit by making their own gifts this year, through the "do-it-yourself" trend made popular through online sites like Pinterest and online blogs. Michelle O'Donnell, 20, of Westford, came to Michael's with her friend Christine Peloquin, also of Westford, on the hunt for materials to make crafty gifts.

"I try to make my own since I feel like it's lower in cost and it's a lot nicer," O'Donnell said.

Shopper David Hohrath, 25, of Chelmsford, said stopped by the Michael's store for a few items to make his owns cards and other goodies.

"I know my family like the sentimental aspect of homemade gifts," he said.

Reuters reported on Monday shopping was actually down the last weekend before Christmas through Manic Monday. U.S. consumers shopped less on the final weekend before Christmas despite deeper discounts, the latest sign of how difficult a season this is turning out to be for retailers, according to the news organization -- only two-thirds of American shoppers said they were all or almost finished with their Christmas shopping, according to a survey by the consumer research firm America's Research Group and Inmar.

For the Porter family in Lowell, over at Kohl's with lines 20 people deep by noon-time, the family members said their holiday is less about shopping and more about quality time together this year. Kim Porter was with her sons Matt, 13, Nicholas, 9, and Jonathan, 7, looking to buy a few small items before returning home to make cookies watch a classic Christmas film. Matt added though, he's hoping for an iPhone this year, and Nicholas said he wanted an iPod.

Over in Billerica, members of the Girl Scouts Troop 60193 sold cookies in front of K-Mart. People hustled into the Billerica plaza out of the downpour. Thirteen-year-olds Keiko Park and Aradia Panzri said the holiday spirit was going strong -- they had already sold a few boxes in just 20 minutes.

"I see how kids are playing more together, family members are spending more time watching the Hallmark Channel or something," Aradia added.

Inside K-Mart, the VanDeusens with their 2-year-old son Benjamin said they were thankful to have one another. Trevor VanDeusen looked over some items for his siblings, while his wife Aja VanDeusen tended to little Ben.

"We've had a good year," Trevor said, putting his arm around them.

Follow Samantha Allen on Twitter and Tout @SAllen_89.