Monday, November 17, 2014

Holiday shopping tips!

I've already started on my holiday shopping. While I save the decorations for after Thanksgiving (thankyouverymuch) I do like to get a jump on my holiday gifts and crafts. Especially the crafts...towards the 25th I start to feel like one of Santa's elves in my workshop.

There's a local sample sale, that I will not disclose, that is THE BEST for Christmas shopping. The email goes out in early November and it really kicks off the holiday season for me. Standing in that garage shivering on a Saturday morning inspires me to start my shopping and then it snowballs from there. BOOM.

I generally don't do a lot of frantic shopping on Black Friday or Christmas Eve, even though I must confess that I kind of love being in the fray of panicked shoppers. I've been lucky because my family has streamlined Christmas. My family does a Secret Santa swap so where I used to buy 6 different gifts I am now only responsible for one. Financially this is a great thing. Buuuuuut lately I've been making Christmas goodie bags for my family because I LOVE BUYING PRESENTS.

My immediate family, you might recall, celebrates Chrismoose so that we can have a peaceful holiday time with Mr. G. The only problem with Chrismoose is that there are fewer shopping days! We have simplified by only getting 5 gifts for everyone. (Something you want. Something you need. Something to wear and something to read. You math majors may have realized that's only 4. We've also add, "Something else because Julie wants to buy you more presents." as a category.)  On top of that we do our Chrismoose Stocking Scavenger Hunt Every Year.

I get my friends little gifts and try to bake for the neighbors. At work we have a White Elephant Swap and I generally get something at the sample sale for that.

So what are my holiday shopping tips?

1. Go easy on yourself. Buy out of state family and friends gifts online and ship directly to them. Make sure to include a note saying who it is from. I never remember to do this.

2. Buy experiences rather than stuff! I like to buy gift certificates but I don't like to buy generic ones. I try to get things I know the recipient will like on Living Social or I try to buy from a restaurant, spa or outing near them. Print it off, pop it into a card and you are good to go. As Cameron Diaz says in Charlie's Angels, "Tickets? I LOVE TICKETS!"

3. Etsy. Just, yeah. Etsy. Guys, want to be a hero? Buy it all on Etsy.

4. Keep a pin board on Pinterest of reminders. I have a secret board where I store ideas. If you mention to me in May that you secretly love hot pepper jelly don't be surprised to get a jar of it for Christmas. I also pin books, clothes and doodads that I run into that I think might be good gifts. I recently gave my Sister in Law a Steve Zissou broach I pinned last January. (Thus following rules 1, 3 and 4.)

5. Use Ebates! I had forgotten all about my ebates account until recently and I am so glad that I remembered. You can get cash back on your online purchases if you just click through their website. Every once in a while they'll send you a check. Unlike some similar services Ebates has cash back on almost every website. Sometimes they have bonuses on certain purchases. Sometimes they even have coupons for what you are buying. I recently made a purchase from the Starbucks store and scored 15% off, free shipping and cash back. We made $14 on an purchase and we've even started buying stuff online at our local Home Depot to get the cash back. Just choose the free ship to store option and you can swing into customer service and get what you need. If you're already shopping online you should be using ebates.

6. Buy used or better yet, regift!! I keep a stock pile of things that are in perfect condition for emergency gifts. I shop super clearances, thrift stores, yard sales and hoard things that people give me. Don't go overboard here or you'll defeat the purpose. I'm still sad I missed scooping up the holographic Jesus painting I saw at a recent yard sale. It would have been an amazing white elephant gift.

7. Food/Coffee/Chore gifts can make life easier. Want to get me a gift I'll love and use? Get me a Starbucks gift card. Or better yet take me to Starbucks and buy me a drink! OR even better just give me the free one that comes with your Buy One Get One deal. I'll love you forever.

Don't give people those, "Good for One Leaf Raking" cards that some blogs suggest. Your loved one is too polite to ever cash them. Instead just set up a thing and do it. Change the oil, rake the leaves, paint a room. If you're a good listener you'll know what needs to be done. As the Sweet Potato Queens say, the six little words that everyone wants to hear are, "Oh no! Let ME do that."

8. I used to love wrapping presents. I still do if I have time to do a good job. But if I don' gift bags forever. Buy the most generic gift bags you can, I prefer the brown paper ones, jazz em up with all the ribbon you've been stockpiling and ta da! You are d-u-n done with your wrapping. I've decided that wrapping paper is a literal rip off AND it makes so much waste. It's not very green. As a nod to greenness instead of wrapping we recycle gift bags until they are unusable. (Though I've been known to staple a gift bag for B or G.) I've even sewn cloth bags for use every year. The boys have a bad habit of writing the recipients names REALLY HUGE on a gift bag. That could ruin it forever...or you can just make sure to use it for that person again the next year. I was worried that shifting to reusable bags would make Christmas less fun...who doesn't love tearing into a gift like a grizzly....but I am happy to report that opening presents is still great even without the giant trashbag of paper at the end.

9. If someone is hard to shop for and/or a jerk don't get them a gift. Santa wouldn't do it and neither should you. If you MUST get them a gift don't stress yourself out about it.

10. Don't expect anything and practice gratitude. Tis better to give than receive. Gift giving is not an investment. A few years ago we all got wrapped up in the wrong things and all got each other $25 gift cards to different stores. No. NO. That's not fun. We are not running errands for each other here. This is not, "Buy me the red sweatpants at Sears. Size medium," time. Try to remember that it's the thought that counts and if you can't muster any good thoughts read over #9 again!


  1. Best holiday shopping tip list ever! You truly have the holiday spirit, Julie!

  2. Baby, can you pick me up some sweatpants on your way home? Here is the link so you don't get the wrong ones:

    1. Open bottom? I thought these would have a flap but it just means that the leg holes are open....which couldn't they have called that something else. Do closed bottom sweatpants with no legholes exist?