Holiday Gift Giving Techniques
Ah…Christmas time. I love Christmas. I really do. Well, parking madness, shopping terrors, and cold weather aside, I love Christmas. No really! But some of the things we eventually love about Christmas (like sitting around a beautifully lit tree on Christmas morning with the family and opening gifts and enjoying some Christmas cheer) gets clouded by what we have to go through before that beautiful day…shopping. There are a number of ways you can shop for your loved ones each year, and I think I’ve tried them all. Let me give you the run down:
You can make all your presents. Ah. Right from the heart. You’ll save money, avoid all the darn commercialism, and people will really appreciate the beautiful gifts you spend all that time and energy making for them. Right? (heh heh)
One year, I decided to make all my gifts, when I was a starving artist. And we’re not talking popsicle-stick houses either. We’re talking high-quality gifts. I made porcelain flower arrangements, clocks, beautifully framed photo collages, things that my family and friends really appreciated. And they loved the things I made (at least they say they did, so that’s good enough for me)! Problem is, I spent more money on all the crafts that I then had to pour hundreds of hours into, than I would have if I had just gone out and bought my gifts for the year.
And what if you do receive the shabbily made gift – that popsicle-stick house? We’ve all gotten these gifts that were made with love, and that really have no place in our homes. You know – the year you got the very colourful finger painting…made by your fully grown children…"yeah, I’ll put that right up here on the fridge, with the alphabet magnets". I mean – what do you do with them? I have a box in my hall closet at home, filled with truly tacky gifts that my friends and family have made or bought for me, some so bad that I’m sure it was a joke. And every time these friends visit, I pull their creation out of my dusty box and find some prominent home for the object. I’m sure they can see through it, but it’s the thought that counts, right? At least, that’s what they must have been saying when they made the bloody gift!
Okay, so making gifts have their place, but only if you’re willing to put some serious elbow grease and money into it. You can also…
C’mon…everybody does it! You receive this really nice bar of soap from some fancy store, one of 15 bars received this year. You really like it, but you’re still working on the soap you received six years ago. So…..you put it in a special place, and when you need to come up with a gift at the last minute – whamo! You have soap.
Okay – sometimes you really can re-gift and it can be a good thing. Maybe you really received a gift you have no hope of ever using, but that would be perfect for that somebody else in your life. But beware.......remember who gave you the gift in the first place.
True story: It’s my second Christmas with my ex’s family. My mother-in-law, bless her heart, hadn’t quite figured me out in terms of what to buy for me, and since the relationship was still kind of new, we were both unclear as to what types of gifts we should get for each other. For our first Christmas, I got her…you guessed it…soap. (Everybody can use soap, right)? Guess what I got back the next year? That very same raspberry foam soap that I had given her the previous year. And I know that this was a re-gift, because she never would have been able to buy the same soap that second year; the store went out of business!
So…re-gift at your own risk. It’s a big bad world of soap out there.
You can also get all your Christmas shopping done early. Ah – to happily avoid the mad parking lots outside of shopping malls, the disgruntled crowds in the stores, and to be done by September. What could be wrong? Well…
If you are going to go to the effort to finish shopping early, stick to your guns and don’t go out again. For example, I (foolishly) decided to keep a friend company one year while she did her last minute shopping. The number of things I saw that were even better than the gifts I had all wrapped up at home were incredible. So I ended up going shopping twice anyway, and I bought twice as many gifts. My family liked it, but my pocketbook certainly didn’t.
Another year (I hadn’t learned my lesson yet), I was tickled pink to be finished all my shopping by the end of October. My family, however, doesn’t operate this way. So, a week and a half before Christmas, the decision is made that we’re all going to chip in for one big gift for my mother-in-law. Oops. And now I had all this soap I couldn’t give her! Ah well – off the soap goes to the “miscellaneous gift” pile. Which takes me to the next method of gifting you can employ.
Ah – the “miscellaneous gift” pile. You know the one. You see a great sale on at a store, and some really funky items that are an absolute steal. You don’t really know who in your life would enjoy them, but you just know you have to have them, and that surely there’s somebody you forgot to add to your list who will appreciate this, and being able to whip this gift out at the last minute will save your butt from an awkward one-sided gift giving session.
In fact, this funky item on sale is such a great deal, you know there’s at least two people who will enjoy this gift. You just don’t know who yet. So you buy four. And they sit in your miscellaneous gift pile for way longer than you had anticipated. Years, actually. You’re only able to give away one, maybe two each year. Watch Out! Remember who you gave it to.
My best friend’s step-mother was notorious for doing this. And how do we know this, you ask? Because she got the very same wooden salt & pepper shakers, two years in a row.
Really Last Minute Shopping
And, of course, you can join the ranks of so many men (and I do stereotype men here, but I think you’ll agree that this is a somewhat established pattern), who do all their Christmas shopping…on Christmas Eve. They realize that in half an hour all the malls close and they still haven’t found something for that special someone in their life. Do you want a Christmas eve giggle this year? Stake out in front of a 24-hour drug store on Christmas Eve, and watch the mayhem. Men, pale faced and panicked, running around in a chaotic state, begging the staff at the drugstore to find them something for their girlfriend or wife. Drug store perfume, chocolates, soap – anything!
So here’s my plan for this year. I’ve turned over a new leaf. I’m going to join the ranks of December shoppers and shop for my family and friends in the last 3 weeks before Christmas. Sure, the crowds will be harrowing and the parking lots a complete disaster. But the Christmas decorations will put me in a numbed festive mood, and I’ll happily shop for my loved ones, secure in the knowledge that nobody’s going to hit me up at the last minute for a “group gift”, I won’t be in danger of re-gifting something back to the original donor or giving somebody the same funky item two years in a row, I won’t spend hundreds of hours crafting the perfect piece of junk for the hall closet, and I won’t be limited to the last dregs at the drug store either. I think it’s the perfect plan.
What could go wrong?