December 2, 2007 by Marj Hatzell
The beauty of the internet? I can wear (or not wear. Oops. Sorry if that is TMI.) whatever I want to go shopping. Since I am such an organized person (it’s fine to hate me, really, I do not mind.) I am finished my shopping for this year. I still have to wrap everything, but I figure that since I have three weeks still, I have some time to do this.
I typically try to work on Christmas shopping from Halloween until Thanksgiving (Yes, you can hate me again). I cannot stand the thought of being out with all of the crazy, greedy people. I start out by making a list of EVERY person on my list, how many cards I need, etc. Then I list ideas for each person. When that is finished I make a spreadsheet to keep track of what I still need to get, how much I’ve spent, and which stores I can find each item. Then I make a list of stores, list items under each one and hit the stores.
One thing I’ve learned to do is to check items out in stores ahead of time. If I am going to Tarzhay or BBB anyways, I make sure I check items out with my own little eyes. I make a note of the prices, go home and then check them out online. I bring up several screens at once to comparison shop (because you can be in, like, a gazillion stores at once on the internet!) and toggle back and forth to find the same item at each site. If it is cheaper online, I get it. If it is cheaper at a real, live store, I get it there. And no, I am not afraid of using my credit card online. I’ve never had a problem in the ten years I’ve been ordering things online. But once when I was at a gas station using a credit card someone took at picture using their cellphone and stole my information. Lucky for us, our bank noticed something odd with our account and we weren’t responsible.
This year I’ve shopped e-Bay, Amazon, Tarzhay, BBB and a few other smaller stores without leaving my family room. In fact, over a two-day period I managed to get about 75% of it finished. I purchased a few things in real, live stores and that was it. The last thing I usually do is stop and get all of the gift certs I need. I found out that our local grocery store carries popular stores and Visa/Amex gift cards (and BBB, HD, Toy Store, you name it!), most without an additional fee! I was able to get them in one trip, rather than a three-hour venture on a busy shopping day. Gotta love that.
The best part? A few of our gifts for family members were made from the heart on Snapfish. I searched for the best photos from this year, organized them into a folder, resized or touched-up in Photoshop(as needed) and then uploaded them to make a few calendars. Grandmoms and Daddy are going to be very happy when they open those gifts! And they were relatively cheap, thoughtful and useful. My favorite kind of gifts.
I stress over Christmas Cards every year. Know what I decided this year? I can not reconcile with the fact that it is such a flippin’ waste of paper. I had the bright idea to save paper, time and money this year. Those relatives and friends that have E-mail addresses are getting our family newsletter via E-mail (Sis, please do not mail me a card. I’m being
cheap frugal this year.). I did not order expensive cards online, nor did I have fifty photos printed to put on the front of a handmade card. This year I need less to do and less stress about doing it. Y’all know my history of procrastinating, I’m sending CHRISTMAS CARDS not Valentine’s cards (because one year, that’s when most people got them. I had a good excuse, though. Bugaboo was born that year.). For the ones I have to physically mail (it’s painful, but the older members of the family don’t have e-mail. Egads!) I made a family newsletter in Publisher, inserted high-quality photos and then uploaded it to Staples to make premium color copies on recycled paper (I’m trying to be as green as possible here!). It actually cut my budget by about 50%, when compared to last year.
Since my boys have many therapists in their lives (in addition to their teachers) I decided that this year I’d make a homemade card, put a picture of them on the front, and include a $5 gift card to Panera. It adds up, but for ALL of the teachers, TSS workers and therapists it worked out to be about $50. Cheaper than last year’s budget, so I felt good about that. Not to mention that last year I gave Panera cards to two people and they were SO PSYCHED that I decided to get it for everyone else. I mean, who doesn’t love Panera (shut up, I wasn’t talking to you.)?
Now, I do NOT recommend going to real, live stores in your pajamas. I know some people still do that, but the reality is you look like idiots. Stop it. And make sure you are wearing underwear with no holes, just in case (because your momma told you about that one, right?).