Did you know that Black Friday specials started on Nov. 1? The competition between retailers is fierce this year, so there will be a lot of temptation to over-spend on these “deals.” You don’t have to get caught up in all this craziness. Here are some suggestions:
1. Trim the list. According to surveys, consumers plan to spend more money this year, on more people. That is a lot of shopping. I used to have a long list, and it is now down to four presents and that includes two office party gifts.
2. Talk to your family. If you’re in a situation where everyone in your family exchanges gifts, see if they can agree on downsizing. For example, you can draw names or play “Dirty Santa.” If that isn’t acceptable, see if you can come up with a limit of some sort.
3. Shop online. Shopping online can help you comparison shop for the best prices, and save you a lot of time and hassle (especially if you get free delivery).
4. Get back to basics. Think back on the best gift you ever received as a child, or your best holiday experience. What made it so wonderful? How can you bring some of that magic back? Some of my favorite memories are from Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s house, playing simple games with my cousins.
5. Get to know your elders. If you will be with parents and/or grandparents during the holidays, visit www.storycorps.org for ideas on capturing their life stories. The mission of this website is to help families capture stories for future generations. They provide a free, downloadable kit, and lots of sample questions to help you get started. All you will need is a recording device. If you also have teenagers (who will want to be in charge) you have a great learning and listening opportunity.
6. Plan activities ahead of time. Lay out some games that everyone can play together. Even if you only make it through a few rounds of Pictionary, you will surely get some good laughs out of it and everyone can share a common experience.
7. Spend time, not money. Honestly, it’s a lot easier to buy a bunch of stuff and hand it out. What’s hard is making the effort to really connect with other people. Invite a friend out for coffee and find out how they’re doing. Play games with your family that give you time to interact with each other. In other words, turn off the electronic devices and spend face time. That’s what people really need and want.
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