‘TIS THE SEASON
I recently posted this photo of a woman Christmas shopping on Facebook, sharing how much fun I was having Christmas shopping. Several comments indicated that not everyone feels this way about Christmas shopping. Some people find it stressful. And a few people asked me questions about what I do to make it fun. So, here goes.
Most years I order new Christmas gift wrap from one of our granddaughters as a fund raiser for her school. This year the brand was “Charleston” and it’s really nice two-sided paper. I love satin ribbons and use them on most gifts instead of read-made bows, which tend to get squished during shipping. Nice boxes are available at Michael’s and online. Also lots of tissues paper, of course. Also, my mother loved Christmas shopping and gift wrapping. She was very artistic and taught me some tips and let me do a lot of our family’s gift wrapping. I still LOVE wrapping gifts today. Which is why, even when I shop on Amazon, I have the gifts sent to ME so I can see them and wrap them. And yes pay to ship them to kids and grands out of state. One year I just ordered on Amazon and shipped free to my kids and let them wrap them and put them under their trees. I felt felt left out of the gift-giving joy that year. So here’s what I do:
Of course I make LISTS . . . of everyone I’m going to give gifts to: husband, children, grandchildren, Godchildren, pastor, other church employees, friends, neighbors, and what I call the “helpers” – house keeper, hair stylist, nail tech, mail carrier, gardener . . . all the people whose excellent work makes my life so much better. I have 15 Godchildren: 12 living and 3 in heaven. 3 grown children and their spouses, and 4 granddaughters. Sometimes I look back at last year’s lists . . . but sometimes I don’t. How do I decide on gifts for so many people?
Some of our kids, grands, and Godchildren have Amazon wish lists . . . so I often check them out, and if I find something I’d like to give them, I order it. Several gifts for grands usually come from those lists.
I also ask for suggestions from the parents of my grandchildren and younger Godchildren . . . for their kids and themselves! If they don’t offer suggestions for themselves, I surprise them.
I received dozens of catalogues in the mail every week during the holidays. I do a lot of online shopping, so I guess I’m on lots of lists. I enjoy browsing the catalogues while watching the news (a nice counter balance to all the violence and bad news) and sometimes find unique gift ideas.
IN PERSON SHOPPING
I LOVE to shop in person during the holidays, when stores are decorated for Christmas and holiday music is streaming. If a store advertises a Christmas Open House, that’s even better . . . some hot cider and treats adds to the festive spirit.
I also love Christmas stockings . . . in our family we put the empty stockings out on December 5 – St. Nicholas Day – and gradually add goodies to each other’s stockings. Now that the kids are grown and living out of state, I still send the stocking stuffers . . . in zip loc baggies labeled and ready for them to disperse into their stockings. I find most of these goodies in person at places like Target and TJ Max but also on Amazon. Sometimes I include a nice gift such as jewelry or a gift card in a stocking . . .
Since all of our kids and grands live out of state, and many of my Godchildren also do, shipping is a big deal for me at Christmas. I love my local MAIL CENTER and have been doing business with them since the 1990s. They do a great job packaging and shipping . . . have never had anything damaged or lost in the decades I’ve been using them. I try to be ready to ship the first week after Thanksgiving (yes!) to avoid paying higher shipping costs. And WHY NOT? All of this takes the same amount of time whether you start in August (as I often do) or November (I can’t even imagine.)
Okay, I can hear many people saying, “What about a budget?” I do remember having a budget . . . but it’s been quite a few years ago. I would keep up with what I was spending as I went, which takes a big more work, I know. I’m lucky to be able to shop without that caveat at this point in my life, which is a great blessing. Because I only see my kids and grands 2-3 times a year, I know I tend to go overboard on Christmas gifting, but if we lived in the same city I would be taking them shopping, out for pizza and ice cream and movies, right? So, I guess I make up for missing those opportunities by doing lots of Christmas gift-giving!
This year my oldest granddaughters (ages 12 and 13) have reached the age where they like to shop for their own clothes. (I remember that!) So I send them gift cards to their favorite stores, like Tilly’s and lululemon (one of my favorite stores, too!) Another granddaughter is into online games and put a gift card to ROBLOX on her wish list. Sometimes I can’t think of just the “right gift” for someone and resort to a VISA or MASTERCARD gift card. I know that doesn’t sound very personal, but maybe shopping with “pocket money” will bring them joy!
FOR THE SPOUSE WHO HAS EVERYTHING
My husband and I typically make suggestions to each other for our Christmas gifts . . . often something we might buy for ourselves at another time, like slippers or jewelry or a sweater. But sometimes I like to surprise him with something he might not think of, which is always fun. (I’m doing that this year, but won’t spoil his surprise since he often reads my blog posts!)
I hope this post has inspired you to ENJOY this one aspect of preparing to celebrate Christmas: SHOPPING! I love reading about other people’s traditions, like one person who recently put on Facebook that instead of giving gifts, her family takes a trip together . . . making beautiful holiday memories! I love that. But if gift-giving is important to your family, maybe my tips will help.