Monday, December 8, 2014

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Christmas Shopping

It is not the size of the gift that matters but the thought and spirit in which the gift was bought and given that matters.

When I was a kid growing up Christmas shopping was fun especially once I got my driver's license. Having my driver's license I could go and meet up with my friends and we did our Christmas shopping together at the local mall. There was lots of fun, lunch or dinner maybe and hitting nearly every store in the mall.

As a daughter, buying gifts for my parents growing up was always fun. I enjoyed picking out just the right present for each of them. Now though they tell us that they really don't need anything. However, we choose to give them something for Christmas anyway. This could include a bottle of their favorite bourbon or wine, a gift card to restaurant they might not normally go to, manicures for Mom, or an Amazon gift card for Dad and his Kindle.

As a sister, buying gifts for my siblings growing up was always fun! Making sure that they didn't find what I bought for them and that I got it wrapped as quickly as possible just in case. As we all got married we continued to buy each other and our spouses gifts for Christmas. However, after awhile we changed our routine. 

The first change we tried started with the eldest sibling and we would rotate who got who. However after a couple of Christmases we realized that this didn't work to well because we didn't keep track from the previous year and it became confusing. Then we moved to buying for each couple but again after a few years we decided that really wasn't working to well either. So now we do a "Dirty Santa" gifts. The rules are simple, you must buy one gift for a girl and one gift for a guy and our limit is $25.00.

As a parent, Christmas shopping for my children was tricky to say the least! This was because we didn't have a lot of space which meant I didn't have a lot of room or places to hide the "Santa" presents. When they were really small before they started going to school I would hide their gifts (still in their store bags) on the top shelf of any of the closets in our home. Another issue was that as a single parent I didn't always have the money to buy all the gifts they wanted. Fortunately, my parents and siblings helped a lot in that department.

As an Aunt, when my nieces and nephews were small buying gifts for them was relatively easy and carefree. The ages of my nieces and nephews range from 6 years old to 21 years old. They all have video consoles and games and it boggles my mind to even try to figure out which video game to purchase! There was also the constant emails, phone calls or texts to my siblings to be sure that they didn't already have a particular game. 

This is how the tradition of giving gift cards to my nieces and nephews began. To be honest they all love gift cards. While it does take out the fun of paying back my siblings for all the toys they gave my children that made extremely loud noises, I would much rather they be happy and not have to deal with returning gifts. I also don't just hand them a gift card either. I put them in a decorative Christmas box or tin. I add little things like their favorite candies or candies only available during the Christmas season. I haven't decided yet what will fill their decorative containers this year.

Last year we gave most of them movie gift cards and for the three youngest that could be 2 movies and trip to the concession stand. We have given in the past gift cards for their favorite restaurants, Target gift cards, Michael's gift cards. When my oldest nephew was dating in high school we gave him and his girlfriend a duo gift card, one got the restaurant gift card and the other got the movie gift card.

This year we have our sweet grandson Easton to buy gifts for and it could be a challenge as this adorable little boy has four sets of grandparents and one set of great grandparents too. I have already made a few purchases for him. I still have a few more to go.

I will also follow in my Mom's footsteps and continue a tradition she started with my children. Every year my Mom has purchased a special Christmas ornament for her grandchildren. She chooses something that has to do with something in their lives for that particular year or perhaps a sport they are or were involved in. Mom then uses an indelible marker to write the year on the ornament and if there is enough space she may put that it is from her and Dad.

As I have written this I have noticed that my style of shopping has changed. Is it because times have changed from when I was growing up in the 1960's & 1970's? Is it because of the advancement in technology with computer games, video consoles and games that are cramping my budget? Or am I following along with the trend I didn't really think about before now? Hopefully by next Christmas I will have found the answers and will perhaps try something altogether different.

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