I feel like Christmas shopping has become a sport of sorts; for both retailer and consumer and I hate it. I've already expressed my feelings on Black Friday so i won't go there. Generally, I don't like Christmas shopping. I feel like there is to much pressure and really malls during the holidays are NUTSO!
With the exception of the past 2-3 Christmas' (which I will get to in a sec) I do my shopping all throughout the year. As I see things that someone on my xmas list would like, and its at a good price i'll pick it up and save it. Additionally, there are some pretty significant sales throughout the year so as I see things that would make good gifts for a child, teacher etc. I'll pick it up. Normally these items also double as birthday gifts as well. All of these items get tucked away in bins, stored in my garage and saved for xmas or any other gift giving event. This system works really, really well and I think I end up saving a boat load of money on buying gifts.
Since moving to Portland I've changed my shopping habits quite a bit. I still shop and save quite a bit but many of my friends whom I've bought gifts for in the past, well i've streamlined and now will send a card instead (I think many people, me included, felt pressured to buy a gift for someone because they bought you a gift first so you need to return the gesture) Anyway i've streamlined and I've made the decision to just send cards, local PDX friends instead of buying gifts I now bake a few sweet things and give a little container to each of these friends - "from my home to your home." Gift wise, for my nieces & nephews in Hawaii I go handmade and I make each of them something. My kids are the exception to this rule. We have an Amazon wish list for each of them - Big Red & Donx will ask me to add items throughout the year. This is more of a buying guide for our relatives that lives afar than for us but it does help me narrow down what we'll get for them.
I believe it was the xmas of 2009 that the Hubs and I decided that we were going to curb our xmas buying for our kids. You see they are have been pretty damn spoiled and in some regard still are from the grandparents. We noticed our kids getting demanding and hovering our entitled when it came to buying things so we squashed it, and in some ways are still squashing it. So for xmas purposes we made the decision that they get 1 "good" gift each from us, 1 gift from santa, and stocking stuffers. We make sure Santa doesn't give them the best, most anticipated gift. No way, no how. If its something they are all hot and anxious for you better believe they will know it came from mom & dad and NOT the big red guy. Just in these 3 areas alone xmas can get expensive. The hubs and I don't normally buy gifts for each other, it seems weird since we buy ourselves things pretty much whenever we want. This year I may make something handmade for my kiddos, maybe matching outfits?!? Nah, they'll never wear it. But i'll make something and throw it in the mix.
I feel like this new buying power/making power is much more fulfilling. I don't feel pressure or guilt by cutting out some people from my gift list, it was never out of spite or anger but out of something I felt was the right thing to do because I felt like there was no meaning to it. I'm happier with myself by making something in my kitchen with my two hands and sharing it with a friend than I am with throwing something into a gift bag and slapping on a label. Sharing the love I guess.