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December 2, 2005

Why the Holidaze is a Crazy Time of Year!

Posted by admin

I have figured out why the holidaze is such a crazy time of year. There are sooo many --- too many --- decisions to make.

For a tree, fresh or artificial? If artificial, which do you want --- blue spruce, douglas fir or another variety? For fresh, WHAT was the tree that had the good scent last year? We got an artificial tree a few years ago when we started traveling over the holiday as I was unable to deal with a) watering the tree while we were away and b) dealing with the fallen needles upon our return. Pulling a tree out of a box each year does make this a lot easier. And for those of you pondering an artificial tree, Illuminations makes candles with a great Christmas tree scent.

Then there's decorating the house. Okay, I overdo it on the decorations. I am sure there are many of you out there like me. The issue here --- remembering where things go since usually by January I have them exactly where I want them. This is a good reason to have children. THEY remember!

Then I paint trees and gifts for friends each year. Each is unique. Last year one turned out really pretty and I decided to do them all in the same technique this year. Can I remember what this was? No. I need to call the recipient and ask her to describe it. But I do remember loving it.

While all the above create decisions, nothing is more time consuming than holiday shopping. Specifically strategizing shopping the holiday sales, when to shop and where to shop. This to me takes the holidaze over the top. It makes trying to figure out what to give seem like the easy part. As if shopping was not enough pressure, now I find myself trying to strategize free shipping, discount offers, one-day sales and every other new clever thing that stores come up with. I am moaning that I missed the Lego two-day sale with savings of up to 20%. I was too busy basting the turkey to open the email.

I have never risen at 5AM to get a DVD player for some bargain rate. I am not a morning person. If this sale were to happen at let's say, 11PM, I may be in the crowd, but stores opening before 9:30 are never going to see me. I watch the footage of bleary-eyed shoppers every Black Friday rushing the doors. I am not competitive enough to go up against them.

But other sale offers still get me going.

Last weekend I wanted to get candles from Illuminations and almost rushed to the mall to get the "buy two jars get one free" offer. In fact, I was kicking myself Sunday night that I missed this. Well this week I got another offer for Illuminations Candle Club members exclusively for $10 off a $50 order. Was this better than last weekend's offer? Do I rush there tonight? Now I am wondering if there is a BETTER offer still out there.

I am trying to figure out if the stores do the same offers each year. Maybe I should chart them so next year I will remember.

Then there is a chance that waiting will not pay off since the product will not be there if I play the wait game. Will they still have the dog pajamas in size 8 at the Gap if I wait for the bonus coupon?

And then there are the book, DVD and music offers. Last weekend Borders offered 50% off on 11 titles. I immediately found myself looking at my list and their list trying to match people and gifts together. I was wowed by my friend, Annie, who managed to match six of the titles to people on her list and the Martha Stewart cookbook for herself too. How clever was she?

At the Borders checkout on Saturday I saw $100 off on the DVDs of all ten seasons of Friends. So what that my son owns years 1-5 already? THIS was a chance to save $100! I had never seen a coupon like this before. Maybe I could buy them all and then sell seasons 1-5 on eBay. Of course, I have never sold anything on eBay in the past, but this sounded great.

Of course I am the same girl who bought a color laser printer with a $100 mail-in rebate that I remembered 31 days after I bought it. Yes, the rebate expired in 30 days. And I did the same thing on not one, but TWO, cellphones. Clearly only INSTANT coupons work for me.

Tonight we are going to the mall. I have to remember to get the coupon book when we get there. Typically this book will have coupons for stores that I never shop in, but I HAVE to have it to see what is being discounted. Maybe I will need it.

While I have written this note three offers to "BUY NOW AND AVOID SHIPPING COSTS have arrived in my mailbox. Now my mailbox is filling up with offers from them same catalogs that are piled up around the house. One offer was for sheets and pillowcases. I do not need those, or do I? They have free shipping til Sunday. Another was for clothing from a mail order catalog that I bought from once. Nothing fit right. But they have FREE shipping. The third was from Victoria Secrets for their "sweater sale." I did not know they carried sweaters.

I got a promotional $10 gift certificate from Victoria Secrets as a birthday gift. This is to lure me into the store to spend money, because seriously what can someone buy for $10 in that store? But I know I will not resist. After all, it's $10 off on whatever I want!

Both of my boys have made Wish Lists on Amazon. I highly recommend these especially to those of you with far flung family. When you see people once or twice a year who knows what their interests really are. Also, there's a great selection. And you don't need to leave the house!

This hits on another fact of life. I am not competitive enough to shop this time of year. It all starts in the parking lot. The circling. The dash to cut someone off. I am just not aggressive enough. And I hate wasting time hunting for a spot. I also hate checkout lines.

I will spend a considerable portion of these next weeks strategizing when to shop to avoid crowds. It used to be people went home to eat and 5-7PM worked, but I think that plan may not be viable. Plus I get hungry too.

I love getting gift cards and from our last poll I see you do too. We asked which of the following would you like to receive this holiday season --- a gift card to your local booksellers, a gift card to an online bookseller, a book or nothing book-related. Of the more than 600 respondents, 64% of you want a gift card for a local bookstore; 20% one for an online bookstore. Only 13% of you want a book. 2.5% want nothing book-related. Should I just get everyone a gift card? A tree of gift cards?

Of course, my favorite things to buy are books. I know books. I may not know the hot Hollister or Abercrombie item for my niece, but I DO know what she will like to read. There are no size, color or fit issues involved.

Reading is not trendy. It is cool. And there's definitely a book out there for everyone. You pretty much know what you are going to pay, and where you can get the discounts. And hey, I can avoid the whole shopping center nightmare by getting them online.

I must offer just came into my mailbox for Personalized Christmas Ornaments. I must investigate!