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#59266 - 11/20/02 12:49 PM Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
sunflwrpdx
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/23/01
Posts: 330
Loc: Portland, OR

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I was wondering how people are going to celebrate Christmas this year when a lot of people have shaky job/financial situations. I know the holiday season is ideally supposed to be about family, friends, and all that, but in this culture, it's also about money and presents, presents, presents. Sad, but unfortunately true.

This year, I have eight people I want/need to buy for: my boyfriend, my mom and her husband, my dad and his wife and kid, and my brother and his girlfriend. I'm worrying about how I'm going to buy everyone a gift. I've heard from several people that I should spend no more than $20 on each person, but if I do that, it means I spend $160, which is more than I can afford.

I've thought about giving each couple/family a single gift, but I'd also like to give my both of my parents something personal. (Like a book they'd enjoy, etc.) Most of all, I'm afraid of looking cheap if I give each family/couple only one gift to share amongst themselves, or if I buy my parents and brother their own gifts, and then give their spouses/SO's/kid something smaller.
So, I'm really not sure how I'm going to do this.

How are other people planning on getting by this Christmas?
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If you don't risk anything you risk even more. -- Erica Jong

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#59267 - 11/20/02 01:19 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
giabow
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/05/02
Posts: 79
Loc: NH

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This year is going to be hard for me, too. Besides Christmas, I have two November birthdays and a January birthday to buy for. Money is tight enough as it is.
My siblings and I (there are four of us) decided to do something different this year. Instead of each of us buying something for everyone, we drew names out of a hat. This way, we only have to buy one present instead of three. However, I still have to buy for that sibling, both of my parents, my fiance and his parents.
I'm leaning toward hand-made presents this year. I made my mother a scarf, and she really wants someone to clean the pantry and all the "junk drawers" in the house (there's about four of them). So that's what I'm doing while I'm there for the week. I'm making my fiance a pair of mittens and a book of poetry. He might get a little something else, but nothing really expensive. Everyone else is going to cost money though, which isn't good. Plus, about 25 Christmas cards to be mailed out to other family and friends. Although, I might just make those up on the computer and then copy them at Staples or something. Still, I'll be spending a small fortune in stamps (damn US postal service!).
Anyone else have any good money saving ideas for this Christmas?

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#59268 - 11/20/02 02:15 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
goovie
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/14/01
Posts: 808
Loc: chicago, il

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Yeah, this is gonna be a hard holiday season for me, too. At least the last time I was poor at Christmas, I was paying the bills with a job at Waldenbooks (in other words, employee discount). But everybody knows that I'm struggling right now with unemployment and moving and everything, and many of my loved ones are in similar situations. I figure there are about 5 presents I *really* need to buy, and everyone else will get homemade cards and fun little things that don't cost too much but will make them smile.
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#59269 - 11/20/02 02:42 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
deborah Administrator
Chief Bibliofreak
Ching Shih


Registered: 05/27/00
Posts: 3901
Loc: Funkytown

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sunflwrpdx, I don't have a lot of bright suggestions -- Frink and I usually end up overspending, between Christmas with my family and all our friends, Ramadan with his, Festivus between the two of us, gifts/cards/whatever for all his clients, and the little tokens of appreciation I send my moderators. At least the stuff we send his clients is a tax deduction...

But if you have people on your list who love books, perhaps they'd be content with used copies of books they want? I personally don't need or require brand new copies of all my books; I will usually only buy new if I can't get used. I've even interspersed my Amazon wish list with notes that I am happy with secondhand copies of books, just so people know. As long as the book's in decent readable condition and in one piece, I'm pretty darn happy. My philosophy is, the less spent on books, the more of them you can have. And I'm all about the greed.

The other thing that can make people very happy is if you track down a beloved/long-lost/out-of-print book...it doesn't have to be expensive -- the gift is really in the effort you've put into finding it and the thought/research it took to think of it.

ETA some other ideas:

I always think that gifts of effort are wildly underrated. Believe me, if someone gave me the gift of cleaning out my eavestroughs, I'd weep on their shoulder. I think the trick is to offer effort the person is ready, willing, and able to accept: for instance, someone's messy closets may drive you insane, but if they're not bothered by them, they're not going to be overjoyed by an offer to straighten them. Whereas they might be thrilled if you'd babysit a couple of times, or offer to come over and cook dinner a couple of times when things are particularly hectic for them. People are always offering to help me paint but frankly, unless I knew they were as fussy about it as I am, I don't think I'd let them. Or I'd be micromanaging them right into a fit. So for me, an offer to paint isn't necessarily exciting. Mow my lawn? Now you have my attention. Etc.

Another excellent gift is digging up a special picture they've never seen, never gotten around to framing, whatever, and putting it in a nice (but not expensive) frame. One of my most treasured gifts was from my sister, who dug up a 1973 picture of her and my late mother at my Dad's office Christmas party, and blew it up from the print since the negative was lost, and gave it to me -- unframed, even. In a manila envelope. But I was a blubbering mess. She probably spent less than $10 on it. And it's still the best gift she ever gave me.

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#59270 - 11/20/02 07:19 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
naomism
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/18/02
Posts: 757
Loc: Iraq

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I set aside money every month for gifts so that we have enough during the crunch time around the holidays (6 birthdays as well as Christmas presents in the Nov-early Jan time frame).

This is one of the cheapest gifts I've ever given, but it's also the one with the most touching responses: I get a box or a basket, something with a lid. You could even use a shoe box that you decorate yourself. On slips of colored paper (I used origami paper because I had some neat looking packets on hand) I write positive things about the person I'm giving the box to, like "...a great mom" or "...beautiful," "...sexy," etc. Then, when I give it to the person, I tell them it's an "I am..." box. Every time they open it, they should say, "I am..." and then read one of the slips of paper.

I've given this gift four times and all of my friends were very touched, to the point of tears. One of them likes to read a lot of the slips at one time when she's feeling down. Another one likes to read one each day for a little lift.

This is just one idea, but things of this sort are easy to do, cheap, and are still great gifts that are really appreciated.

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#59271 - 11/21/02 01:57 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
devilbrat1
Ching Shih


Registered: 02/19/02
Posts: 284
Loc: New York

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As a variation on the "I am" box you could maybe for a person who loves quotes, put some on strips and place them in a jar of some sort.

I was thinking maybe a coupon book with things such as babysitting on a Sat. night, shoveling snow, an offer to organize anything in the house (not specific enough to offend and also this way it can be used for whatever is needed. Just do strips of paper and bind it together with a ribbon. You can even have ones that have spending time together as the theme, here's a coupon for a movie night, a girls night, a cookie making afternoon, whatever.

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#59272 - 11/21/02 03:51 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
sunflwrpdx
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/23/01
Posts: 330
Loc: Portland, OR

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There's some really good ideas on this thread, like the gift of time, used books (of course), and the "I Am" jars. I'll have to remember the jar idea for my boyfriend's birthday and/or Valentine's Day. I'm sure he'd love it.

I think more than anything, I'm afraid of looking cheap this Christmas. Like if I spend less that $20 on each person, they're going to think I'm Scrooge, or get pissed off that I didn't get them something fancy & expensive when they bought me something really swell. My family tends to spend a lot of $$$ (probably too much) on Christmas and I've always felt guilty for getting a lot of gifts from certain people (Hello, Mom & Dad) when I can't afford to do the same for them. I know deep down that they probably understand, but I can't help but feel guilty anyway.

I do think handmade gifts, etc. can be more meaningful than store-bought ones. For example, the past two Christmases, when my SO and I had more money, we bought each other a lot of stuff, but now we can barely remember what we gave one another. But last year, I did a cross stitch piece for my boyfriend and he loved it--he actually got teary-eyed when he opened it and it now sits proudly on his desk.

I am doing the handmade thing again for him this year (another cross stitch piece), and I am also making several felt applique snowman ornaments that I could give to special people (like my parents and grandparents). But, that stills leaves the problem of what to do for my dad's kid, my brother, etc, and at this point, there's not enough time for me to do something crafty for everyone. (Argh!)

So what I'm thinking of doing is buying everyone a single Christmas tree ornament. I've been looking at tree ornaments like crazy lately and I'm amazed at what's out there. You can just about get any type of ornament you could imagine and depending on where you shop and what you pick out, the ornaments could be only a few dollars each or more than $20. I figured this would work because: everyone gets something; it'll be something that reflects their personalities, tastes, and interests (like a car for my dad, something cute for his kid, etc); and it'll be something they can take out year after year and treasure.

Maybe it's a hokey idea, but it might help me solve my Christmas gift problem.
_________________________
If you don't risk anything you risk even more. -- Erica Jong

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#59273 - 11/21/02 07:09 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Kivrin
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 4604
Loc: Santa Cruz, CA, USA

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sunflwrpdx--I like the ornament idea a lot. One year I spent an entire afternoon baking 3 or 4 different kinds of Christmas-y cookies, put them into various colorful tins and gave them to all the family members for presents. One year, I did the same with homemade granola. Another year, I bought everyone remaindered hardcovers. This year, I'm buying presents. Lots and lots of presents. Going into debt amounts of presents. My siblings and our significant others have decided to draw names for each other, but we still have all our own children, spouses, nieces and nephews, mothers and others to buy for. I like to shop for people, but I hate the panic feeling I get over it until it's finished. As far as the actual cost/amount of gifts-- I no longer have the guilt thing. I mean, really. Do what you can, what comes from your heart. It's not a contest. I know that feeling well though. I grew up in a huge gift-giving family too. I still feel like it's a competition between us at times, but I try to relax and breathe a lot through-out the opening-of-presents time, and make myself busy.
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#59274 - 11/21/02 07:21 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
voiceofreason
Ching Shih


Registered: 04/27/02
Posts: 1257
Loc: Brookline, MA, USA

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My family (at least, my mother's family -- my dad's not so much) spends A Lot of money at Christmas. I definitely feel that they spend too much, and that the amount of expenditure becomes more important than the amount of effort. It kinda makes me sad. My mom often gives me cash for Christmas and birthdays, and gift certificates too, and I'd really much rather have something she spent a lot of time choosing or making. And I know that one of the big reasons that my mom gives cash is because she's afraid of getting the wrong thing, and I wish I could convince her that instead of giving me a packet of cash she really can't afford, she could just give me something small and nice that she really thought about. So, there, take it from me: expensive gifts are not always the best. (Oh, and to get back at my mom for giving me the cash, I take it and spend it on a present for her birthday, which is in February).

I give mostly handmade gifts (except for my mom's birthday -- see above); mostly this is because I love doing crafty/artsy things. Also because, though again this is more about the benefit to the giver than to the receiver, when you make something for someone (especially something big that takes a long time) you think about that person while you make it, and you feel all warm and fuzzy towards them. It's nice. I know I appreciate the effort that goes into making something specifically for me, especially when there's also a lot of thought behind it.

I really didn't enjoy gift-giving very much until I started making gifts; so much stress! Now I feel much more immersed in the holiday season because of the time and effort I take, and the aformentioned spending time thinking about people while I knit, stitch, print, carve stamps, or whatever. That reminds me, I need to start making my Christmas cards! My strategy for cheap Christmas cards: use postcards. They're cheaper to buy and the postage is less besides. I'm making my own -- metallic red card, gold stamp, total expenditure for 100 cards(which I will not use even half of, sadly): $13.

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#59275 - 11/22/02 03:20 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
TG73
Gráinne ni Mhaille


Registered: 11/22/02
Posts: 2
Loc: MidWest

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Newbie here. Hi.

My two sisters and I work out a deal each year about buying for kids. One of my sisters has 3 kids, one has two, and I have two. We each buy for one sister's kids and not the other sister. This year, though, one sister has bowed out due to financial woe's (messy divorce and all) so my one sister and I are buying for each other's kids.

As far as parents... when my sibs and I are broke, we tend to all go in together one one nice gift for my parents to share. This year we're making them a calendar from photos of all their grandkids from one of the photo ordering websites.

Also, crafts and home-made gifts can be much cheaper and mean even more because of the effort you put into making them.
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