Like most deadlines it can be a bit frantic as it nears completion. It’s not the shopping that makes this deadline brutal, it’s the wrapping. Given that I have 365 days to find items that recipients will appreciate, I won’t stress over shopping. Along my quest, I find items my family needs, often in advance of the need. This too lowers my stress.
My methodology is quite different from the 28 days of standard holiday shopping from Black Friday to Christmas Eve. As explained in the post Designing a Thrift Routine, most of it is accomplished in a series of 10-minute recon strikes married to the routine of my errand life. For example, when I visit the bank, I visit the thrift store next door for a quick ten with a pair of Snake Eyes to hone in on what’s new.
As an aside, I truly believe the thought counts more than the amount. If you’re in a tired, frantic, grumpy state, are you really thinking? Or are you desperate to be done with it? Please remember, the True Gift is to be Known & Understood, to have someone who’s taken the time to know you, understand you and supports you being who you are. Those are the gifts that make people want to fly. No price tag can be put upon knowing a person. I think this true gift is often lost in the holiday madness culture our country’s market has crafted. We might drive retail sales figures but in turn do those figures drive our happiness? Do they fill our closest needs?
Aside from making an honest effort to find gifts people will need or appreciate (and saving money) I want to spend the winter break with my family. I have a finite number of holiday breaks with my children and this number is shrinking every year. Why would I spend it in crowded malls getting grumpy? Truth be told, I absolutely hate spending a day driving all over town to find the right gift in panicked state. It makes me mean and impatient. Is that a decent role model for my children? Is that what I want them to believe giving is like?
Before reviewing the Golightly 2009 Holiday Annual Report, please know:
- We have a large extended family that spans the country, our shipping costs are often more than the actual gifts. Mailing done before Thanksgiving rewards us with a cheaper ground rate.
- None of these gifts are re-gifted.
- These gifts are a mix of thrift and conventional retail.
- These gifts do not include items for Little Pie’s and Petite Poe’s stockings. But most of that was thrift, I just didn't keep count of the cost. The cost is not much but the girls will love the goodies.
- Since I work at this through the course of the year, the spending has been spread out over many months. December’s bank and credit statements won’t be bleak like the long winter nights.
- These gifts do not include the cost of Little Pie's three wishes to Santa which tipped just over $100, very steep indeed but so worth keeping the belief alive for another year.
- These are the gifts I have purchased and don’t include items that my daughters will give to each other, Mr. Golightly or myself. Nor do they include gifts that Mr. Golighty will give to me – that is for him to know and me to find out.
- Though mostly thrift, these are not gifts to snub your nose at - they are eclectic, antique, brand new, and many are worth hundreds more than I paid for them whether it be a new item from thrift or a vintage item purchased thrift minus the mark up finder's fee on EBay.
- for the extended family, I spent $87 for 17 gifts, a $5.11 average per gift;
- for friends, I spent $28 for 9 gifts, a $3.11 average per gift;
- for school related items, I spent $33 for 8 gifts, a $4.12 average per gift;
- for my immediate family, I spent $199.75 for 35 gifts, a $5.70 average per gift.
Now, this many sound really obsessive, but I keep an Excel spreadsheet of holiday giving. Let’s face it, when the rubber hits the road, I cannot remember what I gave three years ago. But recipients remember. A similar record is kept for birthdays. These spreadsheets also help me keep track of what I’ve already purchased and for whom. For example, I bought an amazing find at the thrift store two days ago for an August birthday. I boxed it up, put it in my gift bin and noted it in my records. This particular gift is so cool that it will be hard not to give it for the holidays! Giving gifts early is a chronic temptation of mine.
You may think my process entirely obsessive, perhaps over the top, but I don’t stress over what to give people or how much I am spending. And, when Little Pie receives an invitation to a birthday party that she forgot to hand over and the party is tomorrow or that afternoon, I don’t need to race out and shop. I go downstairs to my little girls birthday bin and pull out a gift that this particular child would like. Done!
I stuck to my schedule and met my deadlines. But something is happening in Denver that is making things most difficult for me. This year has brought, what I believe to be, an unprecedented surge in last minute donations for 2009 tax deductions like no other. It’s wonderful for the thrift stores. But it’s cramping my shopping methodology. Knowing that incredible deals are quickly and rampantly running through my local thrift store as I write is making me edgy. Really edgy. In the last three days, I’ve purchased five brand new, wonderful birthday gifts for little girls for a total of $7.50 and the retail cost is $47.79. This is 15% of the retail cost for new items! Why wait for holiday sales in the conventional retail universe when the best deals are at the thrift stores now?
As Little Pie and I went to our neighborhood Goodwill last night a large U-Haul truck was backing up onto the donation ramp as we walked in. The theme from Mission Impossible blared in my head as I daydreamed of taking a blowtorch to the side of the van and burning a hole to climb inside to check out the goods first!
Like many people, some of my relatives send me money for the holidays. Usually I spend a small amount at post-holiday sales. However, within the last few days I bought myself a key necklace from Tiffany’s for $4, and a handcrafted vintage sterling spoon bracelet for $4. Last night I caught a vintage 1950’s button-down cape in mint condition for $13 -literally as it rolled onto the sales floor. I love my gifts!
So, maybe I will break with my methodology if it scores me some good stuff even before 2010.
If you are a new visitor to this blog, be certain to scroll back up and pull up the Thrift Catalog slide show featuring over 240 items. This could give you an idea of what could be waiting for you. Also check to the Table of Blog Contents and read about other Thrift Store Conventions.