Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mommy's Project 52:21 Shopping

Are you done with your Christmas shopping?  I am.  At least I think I am.  That usually means I've forgotten a major chunk of my gift giving and left out someone important, and I'll be scrambling at the last minute trying to put together something meaningful yet fast and easy.

Each and every year I set out to impress (mostly myself) and try to be creative and still thoughtful.  As a kid, this usually meant something from art class like those tongue depressors wrapped in twelve non-matching colors of yarn that we had to put on the Christmas tree because they were supposed to be snowflakes.  Or the obligatory (in the 70's) ashtray or picture frame made out of tongue depressors that you decorated with leftovers from art class, which featured your school picture from that year that your teacher kept a copy of, even though your hair was messy and your mom made you do a retake. 

As an adult, I don't have an art teacher to help me, and I don't have a class every day during which I can spend the time creating personal items to give to family and friends.  I am now in charge of carving out the time to shop, create, or somehow come up with gifts that are appreciated, which don't offend, or are somehow in the realm of something the recipient would ever have wanted, needed, or simply won't throw away.

Every year, some girlfriends and I get together at the holidays and we do a grab bag style gift exchange.  There are seven of us and we set the dollar limit at $10.  Gifts range from wine to body lotions to candles.  It's fun to shop for grab bag gifts, and even more fun when you're shopping for good friends.  Since you don't know exactly which person will end up with your gift, you can be as general as you like, while still trying to find something that means something to each of the people in the group.  Like wine.  Or, in our case, sports related items since we all not only work together, but are softball teammates.  That's probably one of my favourite gifts to shop for every year.

I should probably stop here and note that  If I don't know exactly what I am going for, I dread the idea of shopping.  I like to know what I am going for, go in, find it, pay for it, and get out.  That being said, I also realize that I am an impulse buyer.  I really can't just go into a store and look around, b/c I'll find something that's not on my list and end up spending money on everything but the item(s) I am actually looking for.  I know lots of people are like that, of course, but it's one reason I tend to keep myself from the whole shopping experience unless I have my list, cash in hand, and a limited amount of time.

Just looking at this sends me into a panic attack
This tends to remove some of the fun of Christmas shopping for me.  I like to know what I'm going to get, but that's not always possible when you're shopping for a general gift like a grab bag item.  I can only handle "window shopping" or general shopping when the planets are aligned, my mood is right, and I have nothing else to be doing at that moment.  If any of the above are not in place, I will walk into one store and be immediately annoyed that I don't see anything I want or need, the old lady checking out in front of me will pay in coupons and coins from her change purse, and I will be riddled with guilt that I'm not doing other things on my to-do list. 
Ok, who shops in heels?

I try to think ahead of time of items I think that particular people might want or like.  Then I try to think of things that my friend or loved one may not have asked for, but which I'd like them to have and which I realize they could use (maybe a new watch because their current one is dying).  I don't like to shop in the "gift" aisle where you find identically packaged items intended to be given to people at the office that you don't really know very well, and whom you assume can use a Chinese made do-it-all-razor, or cheap speakers for their iPod.  I like to put more thought into gift giving.

I'm not the one who you'll find baking for weeks on end to dish out homemade treats to all whose paths I cross.  I'm not going to be found shopping every night after work and every waking moment of the weekends.  I'm not spending every lunch hour during the week scouring the aisles for that perfect gift.  I am the one at the holidays who makes a list (usually a  mental list), decides where to look, goes, buys, and goes home and wraps. 

I'm the one who is lucky to have figured out what to buy some time in December.  I do my best to find the time to acquire what I decide on.  I manage to wrap some time before Christmas Eve, and finish that night whatever isn't done.  I hope I've done well and those who have received my gifts are pleased.

For those who enjoy shopping, more power to you.  While you're out battling crowds, wandering aisles, and looking for deals, I'll be home enjoying my wine while I wrap my gifts.