Monday, November 22, 2004

Kimmy's Holiday Shopping Guide

Now that the holiday season is here, and with Thanksgiving just around the corner, most people are getting ready to tackle their holiday shopping list. For some like me, someone who loves to shop and who has waken up early the day after Thanksgiving to fight the crowds for years, this is the time to flex my shopping muscles. For others, this is a dreaded task. If the thought of holiday shopping sends a chill down your spine and causes you to break out into a fit of perspiration, do not fear. I have compiled a little list of things I've learned from the few times I've dived right into the holiday crowds. I am by no means a shopping 'expert'...although I'm not even really sure what that is, but maybe these tips can help someone be a little less stressed and make your holiday shopping a little more enjoyable.

  • Don't procrastinate. Shop early, plan early, and wake up early if you plan on fighting the day after Thanksgiving crowds. Think of who you want to give a gift this year, if this is something you need to make or buy, and about where you could find what you have in mind. On the day after Thanksgiving, all of the stores have massive sales and if you are willing to wake up a bit early and fight the crowds, you will save a lot money and your checkbook will thank you. The earlier you go, the better. A lot of stores put things on sale for almost 75% off at opening and increase the price of the item throughout the day, so earlier is better. Also, some stores give out free gifts for the first X amount of people in the store. I usually finish all of my Christmas shopping that day and just window shop the rest of the time. This will save a lot of stress and if you hate shopping, just think that you will get it all over with in one swoop.
  • Relax. Shopping is supposed to be fun. Don't be one of those mean cranky people who thinks the world revolves around you who snaps at and orders around the retail employees. As an ex-retail worker I can tell you from personal experience...we hate you, the more annoying you are, the less you will get out of us.
  • Personalize. I absolutely love giving gifts to people, even more than I like receiving them. There is not a better feeling than knowing that someone put thought and effort into picking something out for you. Listen to your family and friends. Everyone mentions something they like or want in passing without even realizing it. I always make a mental note of this, regardless of what time of year it is, and keep it in mind to stay on a lookout for the 'perfect' gift. Gift giving isn't supposed to be 'just for doing it', so try to have meanings behind your gifts. If your friend is a geek, find some geeky gadget that they will go ga-ga for. Fruitcakes are not cool.
  • Pay attention. Some of my best finds were items in the clearance section, below a pile of random junk. Keep your eyes peeled for these treasures. Also pay attention for crazy suburbian moms who feel that they can run you over with their shopping cart like they do with their massive SUVs.
  • Dress appropriately. This tip is also to myself. I can't tell you of how many times I have worn the wrong attire to go shopping. You'd think I'd learn. Wear comfortable shoes. Don't be like me and wear cutesy little boots if you are planning on spending the day shopping. Wear your most comfortable shoes. If you are going to wake up at the crack of dawn on the day after Thanksgiving, wear layers and bring gloves. Standing in line outside at 6AM is a lot colder than you think.
  • Refuel. Yourself that is. Shopping tends to make me thirsty. Maybe because of the heaters in the stores or the walking around...I don't know. My point is, bring a water bottle and even a candy bar in your purse or manbag. There's nothing worse than a hungry dehydrated cranky shopper.
  • Find appropriate shopping buddies. If you are a person like me who likes to browse and just walk around and people watch, either find a very patient person to go with you or someone who also shops the way that you do, if necessary, go by yourself. Shopping is supposed to be fun and the last I heard, listening to complaining, nagging, and whining is not fun. If you are like my dad or brother, and just walk in to pick up what you need and walk out, (aka. complainers) go by yourself.
  • Plan. To avoid unneeded stress, plan out what stores you want to go to before you start and the route that would be the most convenient. You can check out the ads in the papers or online to know ahead of time what stores have what you want/need.
  • Be happy. Don't let rude people or parents fighting over the latest toy craze ruin your day. Ignore them and if you want, take pictures of them to show your friends.
Ready? Set. Shop!

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