Why I love Holiday Shopping

I’ve always loved shopping for gifts for others. I love asking myself what person X would like and then finding it. A family member who shall remain nameless was in the opposite habit. There is a bit of psychology involved in this person’s gifting in that she is, alas, unable to buy things for herself. The more she wants something the less able she is to purchase it for herself. To find out what she would like, it’s only necessary to pay attention to the inappropriate gifts she gives to others. Wooden tulips intended to be put in the ground for an apartment dweller? Check. A two foot tall statue of a rooster for someone with no expressed interest in such a thing? Check.

This experience taught me, quite early in life, to think about things the giftee would like. I am, it also happens, in a happier place psychologically speaking, than my unnamed family member. This tends to make my gift-giving less fraught. Over the last 3-4 years, I’ve instituted a Christmas fund policy that has removed all financial angst from my holiday shopping. I get paid on the 15th and the last day of the month. I take out X amount of cash on payday and that has to last me until the next payday. That cash pays for everything except groceries and gas. When payday comes around, all the money that’s left in my wallet goes into the Christmas fund. I typically have a very tidy sum at the end of the year — I’m not talking gobs, but I know what I have to spend for my holiday shopping for my son, nephew, nieces, parents, my sister and close friends, and I can budget accordingly.

In our family, we don’t buy gifts for the adults, which reduces the expenses. We only buy for the kids and grandparents. I make an exception for my sister because she’s so wonderful with my son. She’s usually the one who takes him shopping for birthday and holiday gifts for me, for example. And that’s in addition to the time she spends with him. We’re both lucky to have her.

Some of the fund cash goes into the bank to pay the credit card bill for those gifts that can only be bought online. That means as soon as the purchase is made, I put that amount of cash into the bank and pay that credit card charge the same day. Typically, I round up for credit card purchases ($55.67? send 60.00) for my own personal credit card use fee.

Then I hit the streets. I put my cash in a baggie because it’s bulky on account of there are always a lot of ones and fives. I know, based on how much money I have, roughly what I’m going to spend for each person on my list. The amount varies per year depending on how much is in the fund. I’m lucky in that I live in an area where there are a lot of great locally-owned stores. I make sure I shop those places pretty much exclusively. When the money is gone, I’m done. I buy books for people I know will appreciate them. I typically get a gift card from my local independent bookseller for my nieces and nephew. I love shopping for the nieces — gifts that sparkle! Girly things! Things boys would rather die than so much as look at.

I now holiday-shop guilt free. There is no looming depression on the credit card. If I used it to buy a gift, that gift is already paid off. I can’t tell you how much easier the holidays are now.

The fun of buying cool and pretty things for the people I love is even more enjoyable because of this freedom from economic angst. I don’t always succeed in buying the perfect gift, but the point, really, is that I thought about that person. When I find the right gift, I pull out my baggie of cash and fork over the money. Done.



4 Responses to “Why I love Holiday Shopping”

  1. Cybercliper says:

    I’m pretty good at figuring out the gift itself – all you have to do is pay attention to the person and what makes them happy. But I absolutely hate shopping unless it’s book shopping and crowds make me crazy!

  2. cjewel says:

    Oh, I’m with you on the crowds. That’s part of the reason I shop the locally owned stores. They have cool stuff and it’s not a madhouse. I hate shopping, too, but not gift shopping. Strange but true.

  3. angie says:

    i absolutely hate shopping
    i think that’s why i like on line shopping– no crowds or grumpy salespeople to deal with. if only there were no shipping fees, i’d probably do that more often!

  4. cjewel says:

    Yeah, sometimes the shipping charges are so ridiculous I just bail out of an online purchase.