So a few years ago I had the worst Christmas shopping season of my life. I couldn’t find anything I wanted to get. I ended up spending thousands of dollars because I felt desperate and panicked to just get anything. And the day before Christmas Eve, I found out we would be expected to buy gifts for everyone at a 30-person family party the next night, so I spent the Christmas Eve-Eve scrambling around to put something together for every single one of the people that would be there. It was hellish.
That year I vowed to not allow myself to be put in such a situation again. The next year I went to the extreme and decided I would be doing everything for Christmas shopping in September. This required a little planning, a nicely crafted story about Santa Claus needing wish lists early due to high demand of some toys, and a committed plan from my husband on just what family parties we will be going to and what family parties we’d be avoiding. Since then, I’ve done this year-in and year-out – it was just that successful.
Although there are a few rules I follow, or it doesn’t work:
I don’t give a fuck what family outside of my house wants
For the majority of our family that could be considered “not immediate,” I just stopped giving a fuck what any of them wants. My mom always gives me a laundry list of stuff she wants, and stuff I’ve given her in the past that she didn’t like too. As a result, I get her the same gift I get everyone else, and a little diddy from Bath and Body Works (pay back for the bitching she did to me about the B&BW stuff I got her a few years ago). I just don’t give a fuck. Everyone outside of my own home has just about everything they could need anyway, and there are some things I just think are too personal to buy for others anyway (shirts, books, etc.), so I make a gift basket for all of them.
This year I did homemade goods inside a nice gift basket. I canned pickles, sun-dried tomatoes, and bark candy. I put together a do-it-yourself “grow herbs for your tea” kit. Then I wrapped them all in nice gift baskets decorated inside with rafia straw and artificial moss.
Anyone this gift basket stuff won’t work for (ahem, my father) gets a gift card. Those people all prefer to pick out their own stuff anyway.
At home I don’t tolerate that minds changing bull shit
We don’t usually have a problem with minds changing, probably because we don’t watch that much television so have limited exposure to the pre-Christmas commercials. And my husband gets what I give him irrespective of anything he wants. Regardless, there are some times when wishes are added to the list after the list has been “sent” (and September has passed), but I do not tolerate that bull shit.
I don’t mean to be a grinchy, heartless bastard. I just don’t believe in falling prey to the typical commercial ploy to get parents/spouses to spend-spend-spend around the holidays.
My strategy for dealing with last-minute mind changes or additions (they are really just additions) is actually a little convenient for me on account of all of our family birthdays falling between the end of December and the beginning of April. Typically the Christmas unwrap crazy-fest doesn’t bring up questions about requests not received, but when it does I usually mention that Santa may not have gotten it because it was a birthday present coming down the pipeline.
I plan like a boss
On September 1st I plan like a boss. I take out my hot pink, glitter notebook and gel pen of choice, and plan that shit out to the “t.” I first make a list of what the holidays will bring this year (family parties, plans, etc.). Then I make a list of who we have to buy gifts for, accordingly. Then I mark out who is getting a gift basket and figure out everything I need (and need to do) for it. Finally I make a list of where I need to go (online and in person) for everything and I get to it.
I don’t over-think a goddamned thing. When I start feeling bad for how unpersonalized my gifts are to extended family and friends, I remember that year my grandparents didn’t get the Pookies anything, and the heartbreak that followed; or the bitchfest my mom went on that time she didn’t like the scent of the fucking B&BW shower gel I got her. And when all else fails, I scan through the preparations involved in the gift baskets and remind myself that the work for those is probably way more than digging through the clearance bins for an ugly sweater that will probably get returned anyway.
So I am now done with Christmas shopping. It isn’t even the end of September yet, but I finished shopping today and got all the canning done as well this weekend. Now all that’s left is just a little bit of wrapping and packing it all into the closet until December. I even got the stocking stuffers done this year (thanks to the dollar sections at Target and Michaels), and I have to say they are pretty bad ass. I promise you faithful blog followers that if you follow my three rules, Christmas in September is a total win.
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