A Holiday Shopping Philosophy

Obviously, I’ve been a little off track with my writing schedule this past week.

I warned you that might happen, didn’t i?

Oddly enough, it didn’t happen until I got back from Dallas, when I was hit with a combination of sensory overload (can we just say four weeks of unopened mail) and baby deprivation. Added to that were dogs who needed haircuts, cupboards that needed stocking, appointments that needed making.

Oh, and of course, Christmas shopping.

Truthfully, I can’t complain about Christmas shopping because I really don’t do much of it. Jim and I decided not to buy gifts for each other this year, and my mom is perfectly happy with the personalized calendar of dog photographs I make for her each year. I bought one gift for Connor (well, two if you count the Christmas picture book which I aim to make an annual tradition), and a few other books as gifts for friends.

We used to go nuts at Christmas time, with boxes and boxes of presents to open. When you have children around, it’s easy to do that. You buy a lot of stuff for them, and so you feel as if the rest of the family should have just as many packages to open as well.

I am SO over that. Fair warning, Connor – I love you to pieces, but I’m not going to buy you every single thing you want every single holiday. There was a photo floating around on Facebook the other day that proposed the following guidelines for gifting children:

One thing they want. One thing they need. One thing to wear. One thing to read.

You’ll probably have to remind me of that when Connor is e-mailing and Skyping me with his lengthy Christmas lists. Nevertheless, I’m starting out as I’m aiming to go on. He’s too young to tell me what he wants, so I picked that for him. I’ve got the thing to read all set. If there’s something he needs, his parents can let me know. The thing to wear? It’s ready, but it’s kind of a secret so I’m saying no more about it at the present time.

I wish I were more crafty – I have some friends who are so very talented artistically. I’d love to give people handmade gifts but I’m still trying to figure out just how to do that. I’m ecstatic when someone gives me a framed photograph they’ve taken, or a scarf or hat they’ve knit, or a box of homemade candy, but I feel like it would be totally narcissictic to record a CD of Christmas music on the piano and give it as a gift.

So I continue to purchase gifts, but I at least try to make them meaningful. I buy books  often, and from independent booksellers when I can, because I want to support book publishing and my favorite authors. I give gift cards for shops or restaurants or movies I know my friends will enjoy. I make donations to charities in friends’ names.

While holiday shopping itself is not an onerous task for me, I get more annoyed each year with the marketing frenzy associated with Christmas. I wish more people would adopt a “less is more” philosophy for holiday shopping, although I know it would be unpopular with retailers. The pervasive message that buying stuff is what makes people happy makes me grind my teeth. I know better than that – and I suspect all those holiday shoppers do too.

How about you? What’s your holiday shopping philosophy?

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7 thoughts on “A Holiday Shopping Philosophy

  1. Becca, I don’t think it would be at all narcissistic to give a recording of you playing Christmas music as a gift. Why would more vanity be implied with that gift than with a painting or other piece of art specifically made for the recipient?

    For Connor, you might consider a recording (audio or video) of yourself reading his favorite stories – something he can enjoy over and over. Perhaps in a year or two when he can really enjoy it.

    Personally, I go overboard with gifts for my daughter, although even at 10 she had to admit there wasn’t anything she really wanted. I like the idea of “One thing they want. One thing they need. One thing to wear. One thing to read.” I’ll have to remember that for next year. Oh, and I do still need to find a book for my mom – she’s the only one I haven’t purchased reading material for, yet.

    Merry Christmas!

    • We do want to get one of those recordable books. We might still do that this year, and record it while we’re there with him 🙂

      It’s so hard not to go overboard buying for kids. I did it for years -at least I only had one child to buy for!

  2. Love the gift deluxe gym and the book is just precious. We are just about the same as you guys, we basically don’t really buy for each other any more. We just do a few things for family and maybe get something for the two of us together. I would be happy with just being able to see a little more niceness for longer than a few days and my goal is to always try to stretch those feelings as long as I can.

  3. Shawn and I don’t exchange gifts much anymore and we definitely aren’t this year. This year we only bought presents for the kids and we did go over budget, but we didn’t go too crazy. Honestly though, if I had an surplus of cash at the end of the year, I’d love to shop for people. I love browsing “smell good” stores like Bath and Body Works and walking through the mall when it’s all decorated. But keeping it simple is nice as well.

    ps– when I saw your FB status the other day about lack of motivation I wondered if it was a post-Connor let down. I can imagine the adjustment has been a challenge. I love the idea of the picture book.

    • I get my best ideas for gifts when it isn’t Christmas time. I think the pressure gets to me. And if I had unlimited income, I would love to buy tons of stuff for people – go all “Oprah” on it!

      I’ve missed the little one, but I’m glad we’re going back for Christmas. After that, though, it will be a longer period of time before we see him. Boo hoo.

      You must be almost in full “nesting” mode right now! So excited for you and that little bundle of pinkness!!

  4. Tell me about it! Sounds like you found a good system. I’m cutting back with lots of folks — we just all have too much stuff, which happens when you reach an “age.” I am big on things I can eat, attend or wear, since most of the things I NEED are nothing anyone can get me (a plumber to fix the main bathroom sink that’s been stopped for a month? “Please wash hands in kitchen.”

    So, I’ve been doing some baking, nuts, things I’ve made in large part. And I’m VERY good with that!

    Speaking of which, what is your address please? Can you send soon — email me if you don’t want to post here!

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