Look out. It’s coming. The one day each year when you can buy an Easy Bake Oven for $8. If you are really lucky you can find the coveted RC race car and his tow truck friend for $12 each. Ask me how I know.
For years I shopped the Black Friday sales. I would begin preparing my list long before the aroma of a Cajun injected turkey hit the tip of my nose. Thanksgiving Day you’d find me sitting on my grandma’s living room floor waist deep in sales ads, strategizing while the men stretch out in recliners for an afternoon nap and the women plan for the upcoming Christmas festivities.
That night I would try to sleep but couldn’t. Visions of discounted Kindles would dance in my head. My sister would show up at 4 AM to whisk me away for some sale shopping madness. We were a team, she and I. She protected me from evil shoppers and flying basketball goals and she always remembered to bring blankets and extra jackets. I would sit on her door buster priced, pre-lit Christmas trees to guard watch over them so that no one else could claim her prize while she was busy searching for discounted GPSs.
Then there was the year that I was almost lost my head to a by a flat screen TV. I was waiting in line to check out and had nearly fallen asleep due to the slow moving line when all of a sudden I heard screaming and pounding. Then it got closer. I turned around just in time to find that a flat screen TV was indeed being crowd surfed over the top of my head. I quickly dropped everything in my hands (cell phone and coffee) to keep it from falling on me. Thankfully, there was a strong man and an equally intimidating woman on either side of me. Were it not for them I do think I would have made my television debut if you know what I mean.
With so much craziness happening on these major shopping days I started wondering why in the world I bothered. When all is said and done I don’t save that much and I had to wake up at 4 AM to do it. The answer that kept coming back to me was “it’s for the kids”.
The kids would make a list each year and I wanted to be sure I got as many of the chosen items as I could. Shopping on discount days helped me to do that and there is nothing wrong with it except that it was making me crazier every year. Besides, have you ever seen two grown women fight over a Potty Patty doll? It’s not pretty.
I decided that there must be an easier way to find gifts for my kids so as a family we sat together and talked it over. We decided that four gifts each was plenty and that they must fit into the following categories: something fun, something to share, something to read, and something to wear.
The boys, ages 15, 13, 10 and almost 2 get to choose several options for each category. Mom and dad get to choose which ones to buy. That way it is still a surprise.
The “something fun” is usually a game or toy of some kind. This is usually the most expensive gift. I can find it on sale for Black Friday but I can order it online and skip the hassle at the stores. The “something to share” is a gift I allow them to pick out for someone else. They get to choose who. In the past they have chosen neighbors, classmates, or children whose names they found on the Christmas tree in the front of the store. My oldest never fails to donate his gift to Toys for Tots.
The “something to read” is where they get to choose a book or series of books to read. One night a week we cuddle together and read our books. It’s fun to catch up on what is happening in each others story.
The “something to wear” is usually that extra piece of clothing, a team jacket, or pair of shoes that they have been wanting but mom and dad refused to pay too much for.
For us, this strategy has simplified Christmas gift giving and allowed us to focus on what really matters most: family. An added bonus is that I still save money and I no longer have to look over my shoulder in fear of a flat screen TV being tossed overhead. I’m so not kidding about that.