Holidays: How Do You Shop? (Long)
I thought this might be an interesting topic, and possibly helpful to get ideas from each other. How do you do your holiday shopping? When do you shop? Online? Big box stores or small boutiques? Early in the morning? Weekdays? Do you hit the Thanksgiving weekend blowout sales and/or the post-Xmas clearance bonanzas?
I notice with real admiration that some of us set a goal, and make it, of having all the shopping done before a set date-Thanksgiving, or Dec. 1. I just can't seem to do that-for one thing I find I need 'inspiration' for my gift ideas and it just doesn't seem to come unless it's the "official" time of the year, or close to it. I have noticed too that especially in the past few years, retailers seem to play a game of shopping 'chicken': they wait till late then really slash prices. So I've gotten caught in the past buying something then being irritated by-or worse, wasting time returning/rebuying-items that end up going on sale cheaper later. I do try to be finished a couple of weeks before the holiday, at least for things I need to physically go out and buy (as opposed to online stuff). I really can't stand the last minute crowds. Never have done the shopping-on-Christmas-Eve thing. One of my sisters though is famous in the family for her drugstore gifts, purchased the night before or, worse, on the way to the family celebration :).
My pattern is to try to get my list together by Thanksgiving. I generally have a few things bought by then, particularly non-critical gifts (ie not for family-office coworkers, teachers etc). Because of my job rhythm, I can use personal time to take off week days to take advantage of fewer people in the stores. I generally stick to major retailers because I'm a big price shopper. I do the mall scene but only when I have specific items in mind...roaming aimlessly through department stores in search of inspiration is a nightmare for me. I've started shopping online more in the past few years when the items are nonperishables like books, DVDs, CDs. If the price is right the convenience is unbeatable. I always try for free shipping of course. Online is also good for something specific I can't find locally. Last year for example, I found and ordered my MIL's favorite style of moccasins online.
I don't generally do the post-Thanksgiving frenzy sales. I tried it last year, even getting up at (gak) 5 am to be at a toy store by 6 am...which was mobbed. Then I tried Best Buy...which was mobbed. And it turned out that the gifts on fabulous special were on sale a week later for cheaper at Target anyway. I used to do the day after Xmas sales but again, store patterns have changed. They seem to start marking down Xmas ornaments, wrap and cards (my usual targets) *before* the holiday now, maybe the week prior to Christmas. I also find that by the time Christmas is past, I just can't get the shopping urge to fire up anymore :). I'm shopped out-which is probably a shame as I know there are some great clearance things that go on sale then.
Okay that's my long winded contribution. Anyone else care to share?