When it comes to holiday shopping, do you plan ahead? Wait until the very last minute?
I guess I tend to fall somewhere in the middle. I never start before Thanksgiving, but starting on Christmas Eve would make me panic. I don’t even mind braving the crowds in December, on the prowl for the perfect gift.
My sole complaint about the crowds is the people. Some people shouldn’t be allowed in public. I’m not going to go into any detail with that, except to say that there are a lot of folks out there who need to learn some manners.
Not only is shopping time consuming, but finding the perfect gift is nearly impossible. The gift that I think would be perfect for you may not even make your list. There’s nothing better than surprising someone with my idea of the best thing for them, though. I put a lot of thought into what I give. There’s nothing worse than buying a gift just because I have to, picking up something, anything, that can be wrapped and given.
Our kids have small and very specific lists this year. They want all the things Harry Potter (her) and Dr. Who (him). He has a ton of Harry Potter stuff already. I’m not trying to be cheap, but I wonder if he’d miss it? And by that, I wonder if, when she opens it on Christmas Day, he’ll notice he doesn’t have it anymore?
Growing up, my dad liked to trick me. “There’s no way you’re getting that for Christmas.” He would give me some reason as to why it just wasn’t going to happen. In seventh grade, I asked for the leather bomber jacket that every other seventh grader wanted. You know, the one with the satiny world map lining.
That Christmas morning, with every present unwrapped, it seemed I didn’t get the jacket. Oh, wait! What is that plastic grocery store bag over there in the corner? Inside was a neatly folded leather jacket. When I was 16, he told me he wasn’t getting a car. A few months after my birthday, we went to “just look” at a car. When the lady’s garage opened, there was a big red bow on the car. Dad had already bought it for me. Apparently I haven’t outgrown this blissful ignorance, because The Man does it to me, too.
I can’t imagine how teachers feel. They get so much crap year after year. I’m sure they’ll say they don’t mind, but how many A+ Teacher picture frames and apple cinnamon candles does one person need? A teacher friend of mine was given a silk rose that reeked of cigarette smoke clearly purchased at the gas station on the way to school. I guess it was a nice gesture? The thought does count. It might be better if you thought about using a little Febreeze on the silk rose.
There’s trend to give teachers cash or grocery store gift cards. Since teachers don’t get paid enough, this seems like a good way to help them get what they need for the classroom or home. I give teachers the same gift almost every year — a certificate for a manicure. They seem to appreciate it anyway.
One year I was talking to a teacher, ready to hand over her manicure card, when she started listing and complaining about many of the gifts she’d already gotten. She said, “Cash is so much better. We can go out and get something we actually like.” Being that specific about gifts is off-putting. I quickly tucked the certificate in my pocket. That year, I made a donation to a local charity in her name. She didn’t get squat.
I feel the same frustration when I see parents waiting in line after line, spending hundreds of dollars on this specific gift that Junioress has to have or she will just. die. If gift giving becomes that stressful, you’re missing the point. First of all, Christmas isn’t just about the presents. Second, gift giving is supposed to be fun, not laden with demands and specifics that are impossible to fulfill. I’ll even throw in that it’s better to give than receive. Because it is.
Did y’all see the picture going around of the British blogger’s tree, overflowing with hundreds of gifts? Google it. Grab a glass of wine and read the comments. She drew quite a bit of heat with all of her excessiveness. I get it, because, well, if your kid gets a bunch of stuff like that, my kids think Santa doesn’t love them as much. Besides, spoiled kids are usually jerks.
The key to gift-giving is quality over quantity. Getting special things that they will love and be proud of is a good thing. Kids don’t need their entire list. They may think they do, but they also think Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes make for a nutritional breakfast. I might have two with my coffee, but that’s none of their business. Wanting for things is okay; I promise they’ll live. Give within your means and from your heart. Don’t forget to remove the price tag.