Holiday Shopping Madness

Every year it’s the same. You’d think, by now, I would have learned, but no. I say to myself, this is the year I’m not going to break the bank. Just get gifts for my kids and that’s it. After all, I’m not made of money.

That’s the intention, and it lasts about 24 hours. Which is when, I realize my plan is not going to work. Okay, then. Just my kids, and my brother who lives in Chicago because he always remembers me this time of year and sends me something that he knows will be meaningful to me. But, how can I get him anything without getting my brother in Florida a gift, too? And isn’t my sister going to be in Florida with our brother, like she is every year at Christmas? I can’t forget about her.

Just a little gift to remind him of home. That's all Henry wants this year.

Then, I remember the two Secret Santa groups I’m in. At work we draw names every year. And the ladies I met one year at a gym for women, also do Secret Santa, though by now Santa is no secret. Each has a $25 cap, and already I can hear the cash register bell going, “Cha-ching!”

There’s also my neighbor and friend who used to take walks with Henry and me before she got sidelined with a foot injury. Cha-ching. Oh, and my handy friend, Gale, who stops by everyday at lunch time, when I’m at work, just so that Henry can take his mid-day stroll through the neighborhood. And, what about my cousins who moved here last year, and my niece who’s stopping by on her way to spend Christmas with her partner’s family? I can’t forget any of them. Cha-ching, cha-ching!

Then, there’s the woman who does my hair and who gave me a small tin of butter cookies the last time I was in, as a hint that she wants a big tip. I don’t even like butter cookies, but I got the hint just the same. There’s also the woman who waxes my eyebrows, once a month, so that I don’t end up looking like Frida Kahlo. Not to mention, the guy who delivers my water, so I don’t die of thirst. There’s the one who protects me from ant infestations and came to my rescue when I was confronted by a rat in my garage. There’s the UPS guy, who wears spiffy, brown shorts all year long, looking quite dapper as he delivers all my packages from Amazon, without suffering any breakage. He’s been looking at me as if he expects somethin., After all, he more than meets his delivery quota with me. And, while I’m at it, I can’t overlook the team of women who arrive like kamikaze cleaners to spit shine my home every other Thursday. I know they’re expecting a little something. Cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching, goes the cash register, as I watch the dollar bills flying out the door.

Even Henry gets miffed if I don’t bring him home a new toy or biscuit. “Something to remind me of home,” he says, looking forlorn. And by home, I know he means England. I don’t dare tell him he was actually born west of the Mississippi. Instead, I bring him a box of crumpets from the bakery, and a DVD titled, The Lost Prince.  This makes him deliriously happy.

Then, there’s my son’s new girlfriend. This is her first Chrismukkah with him—and us (yes, we celebrate both). Already, she feels like part of the family, and I couldn’t be happier. So I have to get something for her and of course it can’t be just one thing because I have so many ideas on what she’d like! Cha-ching!

And what about myself?  I can’t see a Black Friday sale or any other sale, for that matter, without getting something for me. Which is why I buy two of everything! CHA-CHING, CHA-CHING, CHA-CHING!!!

Oh yes, every year it’s the same. But next year, it’s going to be different, I am certain of that. Next year, I’m going to keep it simple. Which is why, next year I’m planning to sleep through December, and not wake up until the strike of midnight, January 1st.

So how about you? How did your holiday shopping fare this year? Were you good, or did you go overboard like someone I know, whose name I’d rather not mention, ahem.

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40 thoughts on “Holiday Shopping Madness

  1. Overboard as always, Monica — ’tis the season!

    I don’t know about you, but for me this season, all I wanted was more TIME! I couldn’t have cared less about how much I was spending (ok, that may be a bit of an exaggeration…), but I found myself stuck at home WORKING the entire time. Darn this full-time freelance writing career and its full-time freelance writing obligations. :(

    I think I’ll finally get out today to wrap it all up. At least it won’t be Christmas Eve. Though I’m sure I’ll be out tomorrow too.

    Happy Chrismukkah, friend!

  2. It’s always a challenge, eh, Monica? Sigh. I resisted Black Friday which was immediately followed by Small Businesses Saturday. And I dug in my heels over Cyber Monday. I refused to participate.

    Then came the week before Christmas when I realized I had done nothing! Yikes. Have I gone overboard? Hmm . . . I think I’ve been pretty good, but those last-minute gifts do add up.

    Maybe we need to focus on small gifts of thoughtful appreciation throughout the year instead of end-of-year binges . . .

    Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad! Happy New Year! Prospero Ano!

    • That sounds like a great idea and would spread out the gift giving. This month is too jam-packed with too many activities. And, btw, I thought Black Friday was supposed to be the busiest shopping day of the year. But this morning, I heard that today is the most busiest shopping day. So which is it??

  3. I busted my budget, as usual, but not by too much. I always tell myself I should spread the purchases throughout the year and then it wouldn’t hurt so much, but I buy things and forget where I put them, so that doesn’t really work, either. Maybe your hibernation idea is the best solution.

  4. Gift cards for all is my moto. They can get what they want and I don’t have to fight the crowds. I’ve also cut the list and have found that many of my friends have as well. We all have too much as it is and are happier just getting together for a drink, a meal, etc. I’m hangin’ with my dog who is grateful for a tennis ball. Merry, Merry!

  5. I start controlling the madness by not doing any shopping for a person just because he or she does a service for me. I limit it only to those people if I know the names of their children and where they went to high school and they have gone extraordinarily out of their way for me on an ongoing basis. For example, my hairdresser will come in even on her day off if I have a hair emergency (translate: I forgot to make an appointment early enough before I went out of town) or my massage therapist (I’m always running late, but she doesn’t cancel my appointment or push me back).

    As for the 4-legged family — as I mentioned in my blog today I’m going to rewrap Skyler’s present from last year. It’s become her favorite toy, so how could I top it?

    • What a great idea to re-gift your dog’s toy. Very practical. I don’t shop for people that provide a service. Generally, what they want is a large tip. On the plus, I don’t have to wrap these gifts. ;)

  6. Do what I do: bake treats for all the people that do the services. I’m not sure I actually bought any gifts this year. My sisters and I decided not to exchange because they’re broke (and I’m not rolling in cash either). Bryan and I don’t exchange gifts. And Sophie gets enough from grandparents. I like it this way. Less stress and I don’t expect anything in return.

    • Really? It seems to me all they want is cash. Bigger tips. I have a feeling they’d give me the evil eye if I gave them anything else. Maybe, I’ll give it a try for next year.

      You certainly seem to do it right. How nice that you and your sisters have reached such an agreement. Sounds good to me! :)

  7. Monica, I’m with Leah–baked goods is a wonderful present for the service people. And you do have the muffin princess in the house! hee hee! There you go–a lot less cha ching already! As for new girlfriends, your son has to take care of that. If I had to buy a present for every new girlfriend of the Son, I’d be really broke! No can do. This year we’re going virtually “presentless.” Immediate family members, just the three of us and Roxy, will be exchanging homemade presents. Those are what I really deem “gifts from the heart.” Here’s hoping you don’t break the bank and get some rest on this holiday season, querida! Happy holidays! :)

    • I may try the baked goods for service people for next year, but I have a feeling they’re going to prefer cash. Maybe what I can do is give them a 20% off coupon for Macy’s, along with a bag of muffins. I get those in the mail all the time. As for the girlfriend, this one’s serious and we’ve actually become rather close, she and I, so I can’t leave her out.

  8. ——Monica,
    Oh, My, that really adds up, doesn’t it?

    The Frida eyebrow lady, water guy, mail man, milk man, hair lady, the dude who works in your garden .. Haaa Toooo much….

    I gave away baking this year at school w/ tree oranments. Really quite inexpensive, but personal.

    xX have a great time w/ your family.

  9. It’s always a challenge. I used to do that to myself, but I stopped a couple years back. We like going on fat, juicy vacations, which we book in January. This means only the kids get presses. We like going on vacations more than getting big presents. It’s kind of a cool thing because the vacation memories last forever. If a gift is required ( or there is an obligation to give) I try to give a book. If not a book, then I don’t know the person well enough to give them something. It’s a fine live because I am a giver, but I don’t want to get caught up in the nonsense and lose my holiday spirit. Hang in there… If I don’t come back before Christmas, I hope you and your family have a wonderful weekend.

  10. I bake, too. And if they’re expecting something, too bad. But maybe they aren’t expecting anything – Before I started homeschooling, I worked as a teacher. Frankly, I was relieved when kids didn’t get me gifts. I mean, how many fruity candles does one need? No candles this year. And that’s fine with me. Less is so much more.

  11. I heard on last night’s news that a LOT of people (sorry, I can’t remember the exact number!) go so overboard for Christmas gifting that they don’t pay their bills off until July!! This shocks me to no end. I’m one of those “boring” folks who try real hard to budget and stick to the plan — can’t count chickens until they’re hatched, my dad always said!

  12. Well now that all the scramble is over and the living room litter has been cleaned up, I can say it was all worth it!! I can totally relate to your post! I’m still at teachers’ gifts stage too so add that to the mix. One year when I was in the shopping scramble, I WAS a little late and ended up spending close to $50 just on shipping my brother’s kids’ presents to DC. That was enough to inspire me to have at least their presents shopping and wrapped by Cdn Thanksgiving (Oct) when I could hand them off to my brother to pack away until Christmas! My goal for 2012 is to do the same for my other siblings’ kids!!

    • Thank you for sharing. This is exactly what I’m talking about! Needing to buy all these gifts is one thing; but then add in shipping? Well, that’s just crazy. But why wait until October? Start now shipping next year’s gifts and you’ll be all set! ;)

  13. There were so many packages at my mother’s that they spilled into the walking spaces and all across the floor of the living room. I kept thinking that it just looked vulgar, obscene really. Why all the stuff? Of course the kids loved it, but I hope we have enough good sense next year to scale back. Maybe that’s my resolution for 2012!

  14. Great post Monica. It does get tricky this time of year. I used to give baked goods, too, cuz who doesn’t love that? However, this year, we received about a dozen boxes of chocolates and baked goods and jams and jellies, so everyone else is onto this great idea as well. My new philosophy is to give random gifts throughout the year to thank special people so that when the holidays arrive, they will be more understanding if I keep my gift buying for family members only. Do you think this will work?

    • Your idea of spreading out the gift giving throughout the year, sounds promising. I just worry that people have short attention spans and even shorter memories. By the time the holidays roll around, they may have forgotten the present they received in July. Which is when they’ll give you the stink eye. Or maybe not. Who knows? Only time will tell. ;)

    • Am I too thoughtful? Not sure, particularly when you consider that I just downgraded my water deliverer’s tip from $20 (last year) to $10 this year. (Things are a bit tight right now. Yikes!)

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