We’re already celebrating the Chanukkah season, and Christmas is literally but days away. Feeling the pressure? That’s normal – like most busy folks, there always seem to be last-minute gift purchases popping up on your radar screen, i.e., gift list. Did you forget the newspaper boy? The bagger at your local supermarket? Your hairdresser/nail technician/masseur? The temptation to run to the nearest mall is great, where you will be engulfed in a sea of likeminded folks picking up that last-minute gift for someone they’ve forgotten, or – worse yet – to ‘even out’ the gift distribution at your own home. Does Sharon have more things from Juicy Couture and Free People than Amy? Did you get Jeff too many – or not enough – iPod gear than you did for Jack?
The temptation is indeed great, especially if you’re situated anywhere near a working television set. Heidi Klum’s porcelain face pops out at you from a Santa suit, reminding you how much a lingerie gift would mean for that special someone – and it’s not too late to buy it now! Apparently one of this year’s hottest gift ideas – note the word ‘ideas’ – is that of a ‘journey’ diamond pendant, with three or more diamonds hanging from a chain. There’s also the ‘circle’ diamond pendant, which is – of course – a circular pendant composed of (varying sizes of) diamonds. While they look bright and shiny on screen, it would be wise to see what they actually look like in reality. (Perhaps not a bad idea regarding the Heidi Klum commercials as well!). Again, these are the ‘ideas’ that retailers are promoting to us as the ‘hot’ gift ideas this year – ‘hot’ by their own standards and definition, not necessarily by yours or mine. If you’re spending $99 on a ‘journey’ or ‘circle’ pendant, remember – you get what you pay for.
The stuff that’s advertised now at being 25% to 40% off ‘original’ price will, most likely, still be around after Christmas morning – at 50% off and more. Keep that thought in mind! If there are hundreds of ‘journey’ and ‘circle’ jewelry pieces, not every single one of them will be sold before the holidays. Not every down parka will be sold, nor every Laundry by Shelli Siegel dress, or Ralph Lauren handbag – the ones that didn’t sell (the ones you didn’t rush out to buy now) will still be there on the shelves, at substantial savings.
But most importantly, fight off that temptation to flee to the local mall. Don’t give in to the idea that gift items are so very specially priced right before the holidays – the very, very best prices of the season will bein on December 26th (or perhaps in the case of retailers like KMart, who may actuallly be open for business on Christmas Day, December 25th!) Keep in mind as well that ‘pity presents’, the ones that you feel pressured to purchase right before whatever holiday you celebrate, are often purchased with the best of intentions – but the worst possible motive. Take the time to write down objectively what last-minute purchases that you feel compelled to make, and why you feel that way about them. Think long and hard about spending your hard-earned money on something that may be unneccesary, unavailable (except at an exorbitant price), or would be purchased out of pure desperation rather than an item into which thoughtful care was given.
Rather than running helter skelter to fulfill what YOUR idea of the perfect gift-giving season should be, take a moment to stop and organize yourself. What could be a really, really great gift idea, no matter what the price? Instead of buying in a last-minute stop-gap measure, why not consider the gift(s) of cash or gift cards?
The recipient will get a lot more bang for the buck if they HAVE the bucks to buy after the holidays. It goes without saying that every reputable card store on earth will be open on December 26th, with 40% to 60%, and in many cases even higher percentages off, their holiday stock. The same pretty much applies to all major retailers as well. (If you’ve read my post-Halloween content postings, I am a huge proponent of the gift certificate!) Why not let your gift go a (significantly longer) way in being used after Christmas Day?
While you may think that savings of 40% to 50% off such items as cashmere sweaters, fur-lined gloves, suede boots and slippers, luxury high thread count sheets, flannel pajamas, designer handbags and more sound pretty good to you right now, just imagine how you’ll feel when in just a week or two from now, those same items are 60% or more off on clearance? January in particular is a HUGE month for big savings on seasonal wear like sweaters, coats, jackets, slacks, boots, etc., and also on household and bedding items. If you’re tempted to buy a downfilled comforter for someone to open up on Christmas morning, why not give them that darned gift certificate so that they can pick out the color, shape or size themselves, and still have money left over to buy new bath mats, too?
If you cannot, unfortunatly, live with the idea of giving someone a gift certificate (we really should talk!), why not make or buy a lovely holiday card, with the wishes written inside that you will be taking the recipient out shopping at ______ to buy them a new ________? Make it personal, make it fun, make it an even better gift by buying it together when things slow down after the holidays and people settle in the post-holiday doldrums? Give them something to look forward to!
Fight the temptation! The insanity that retailers rain down upon us during this time of the year must stop! Put away that credit card, debit card and checkbook, and instead put a reality check on what it really makes sense to buy so close to the holiday!