Saturday, October 17, 2009

Planning ahead, I think.

Only 76 shopping days until Christmas…

… WHAT!!!

Only 76 shopping days left!!!

Now why would I be thinking about that, with Thanksgiving only 5 days ago, and the leaves still on the trees, and candy for Halloween still stocking the shelves. WHY would I fill my mind with thoughts of Christmas now? And why with only with the materialistic, consumer driven parts of Christmas? I know better than that, don't I? Of course!! I understand and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, but the shopping has become part of the tradition, and it's just not going to go away.

The gift part of Christmas… the necessary buying… is a real stretch for me. I'm not a good shopper, and I struggle with gift ideas on every occasion, especially Christmas when the perceived expectations are higher, the sheer quantity of gifts enormous (I'm including all the little things for stockings too) and the deadline is at least two weeks before Christmas for those out of town gifts that have to be sent off early.

I guess shopping is on my mind because I just got home from THE GREAT CANADIAN SUPERSTORE!!! That's our local long-term version of THE WALMART SUPERCENTRE (which, by the way, just opened here too)… just as mammoth, just as necessary to consider the type of shoes you are wearing when you leave the house, and just as prone to causing sheer exhaustion, irritability, and lack of grace. All in an effort to save a few dollars, and browse the collection of well designed, reasonably priced 'Joe Fresh' clothing that I've come to love.

So, Saturday afternoon, and rainy outside, and Claire and I head to GCS for a little browsing… and two and a half hours later we are home feeling like we just ran the Boston Marathon (not that I know what that feels like… a tad melodramatic, I know). We had a successful trip, and came home with a couple of cute tops for Claire, and a couple of things for Graeme… who hates shopping even more than I do. I anticipate that I might have to return Graeme's items, but at least I saved him from the shopping experience. I even looked for myself, but came home with nothing but a t-shirt.

All this to say, that I am so tired after accomplishing so little, that the thought of Christmas shopping and having to accomplish so much leaves me feeling drained, and certainly not in the best frame of mind (meaning I'm completely lacking in perspective).

Which makes me wonder if I could attack this whole Christmas shopping thing in a different way? A new plan, that's what I need!!!

I have a friend who shops online… and I've tried this before, but it only works for some items. The stocking stuffers still require considerable personal time in retail. And, I've tried the gift card approach, but that always seems a little cold to me… like I couldn't actually make a decision, so I chickened out and bought a 'you choose for yourself' option. And giving cash feels even worse.

So that brings me back to shopping, in person, for hours and hours until I can say, somewhat triumphantly, "I'm finished!!!" Whoopeeeee!!!

The plan this year must start with ideas… because creative ideas are the key to approaching difficult things, I think. So, here are a few off the top of my head;

• Know what you are looking for -- be a focused shopper, rather than aimlessly 'wandering' looking for inspiration.

• Choose the best time of day… first thing in the morning, during the week when others are at work, at school, in bed, or whatever.

• Break it down into manageable pieces. Keep expectations low and exceed them rather than fall short. So, if I can manage to buy one gift, I will celebrate! Thank goodness Starbucks already has some yummy seasonal drinks on their menu.

• Quit early -- head home before feet are blistered, or the attitude begins to slip.

• Shop to a budget, and take the guilt out of spending. This could include having an amount of money set aside already… although this never happens for me.

• Start early in the season with the goal of finishing by a certain date.

• Take a friend with you… this is always more fun than going alone.

• Enlist family members too… from ideas to purchasing, if your family is involved, the task seems less daunting.

• Wear your ipod and listen to your favourite soothing music as you shop. This only works when shopping alone!

OK, I'm feeling better now that I've been reminded of all the things that do and don't work, and even come up with a few new ideas. So, I guess there's no excuse now, other than mustering up the initiative to get started.

Any Christmas shopping tips you'd like to share, I'm all ears.


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