I don't know if it was my Girl Scout training in "be prepared" or a natural inclination to get all excited about the beginning of female hunting season...but I'm knee deep in bargain hunting right now. I made my list and checked it twice two months ago, because I am absolutely out of my mind apparently.
I am currently implementing Plan A just like I do every year which is "Buy Early...Stress Less." Bear in mind that I generally end the season on something like Plan V which is "Chase Down Absolutely Unavailable Item" such as the L.L. Bean nightgown I wanted several years ago or Plan W "Cry In the Aisle of Publix Because They Are Out of Canned Blueberries" or something equally tragic.
But I vow that this year will be different. And so far it has been. This was the year of the Christmas Club.
Never mind that it was a woefully underfunded Christmas Club. And that it is underfunded is in spite of the fact that I have honed the gift list down from what it was to what it is. Yes, I've added the "Christmas Project" - the details of which will be divulged at some point in time - but that has really been a minimal outlay of dollars. It has been a bit of a time hog though. I'm not pointing the finger of blame there.
So, here I am at the beginning of Female Hunting Season...with my list, coupons, clue about how many credit card bonus points I have to spend, and a general idea of what is going on on www.fatwallet.com. That last one is important because it is like a clearinghouse of sales and good deals from all over the world wide web. I mean, where else are you going to find out how to get a Q-see Biometrics Fingerprint Door Lock for $98.24 with free shipping, a Thermaltake BlacXST0005U External Hard Drive SATA Enclosure Docking Station for 2.5" and 3.5" Drives with rebate and free shipping for $9.99, or a free sample of Garnier Ultra-Lift Deep Wrinkle Cream with SPF 30?
Nowhere. You may not need those, but out there in cyberspace...someone is going "Yessss!" Scary, but true. This season I've ordered from the Disney Store, Bloomingdale's, World Kitchen, Clinique, and Jarden Customer solutions already. Who knows what fun tomorrow might bring?
And frankly, that wrinkle cream might not be a bad stocking stuffer. Kidding! (or possibly not.)
I mean...who has time to look everywhere? I just know that every year I end up buying some interesting things for next to nothing that end up being really cool gifts. I have to stretch the boundaries of "creativity" because Big Dave is one of those annoying people who likes to tell you what's in the box before he opens it. When he guessed "cologne" last year and found out that it was a label maker that I had shipped to me for $5...I got to pour him a cup of "shut up" juice.
That was fun. And frankly...he uses that label maker quite a bit. Who knew? I just thought it was cool. And, of course...cheap.
I also got him a Foodsaver system and a ton of bags for half of what I would have paid in the store for a system that is twice as good. Thanks Fat Wallet!
Did I mention that Fat Wallet also gives cash back if you sign up? And that it totally works?
This year, I've already gotten five great deals...and I'm watching it like a hawk for a few more.
I found out this year that two credit cards that I no longer use but are still open had rewards points on them that I liquidated. That's going to make some people happy this year and "free" is certainly "budget-friendly."
I've also been the queen of coupons and have found that there have been a number of stores that have insisted on getting their sales going earlier than they have in years past. I mean, there's the danger that prices could continue to fall...but if I sense that something is a good deal...I go with it. If I can get Christmas gift tags at 50% off (Hobby Lobby) for $1 each...that's a deal. If I can get 25% off of my entire purchase (sale included) at Lifeway...why not? Or get an additional $20 gift card by purchasing $100 in gift cards at Bonefish Grill that I want to purchase anyway...why wait?
Plus, it's fun to get a deal. You know it is!
My goal is to finish all but the bare minimum of shopping by December 1st of this year. Never mind that this is my goal every year.
Every. Single. Year.
And yet...I have never accomplished this.
Why? Because I always have stragglers. People that I like to buy for who don't want to let me know what they would like to have until the last conceivable minute (Mom and Brian) or have something specific in mind (Linda and Brian) or just want everything (Jill). Those who want expensive items (Brian), difficult to fit in the car without profanity (Big Dave), or who are so easy to buy for (Jill) that they end up with more stuff under the tree numbers wise than appears fair.
Yes, I do think one child having 23 gifts and the other having 8 might cause the latter to end up whining on some futuristic version of Oprah someday. I'd really like to avoid that if at all possible. It may already be too late.
But this year I have high hopes. I've already gotten a lot done...and I've even mailed one package to its final destination. I know! The people at the post office were even impressed.
I'm worried that the annual Christmas card may be my Waterloo. For whatever reason, I have not taken as many pictures this year as I have in years past...and the chances of me getting my two together, dressed, and reasonably happy at the same time is fairly remote. This may be the year that the dogs are on the Christmas card.
Hey, it could happen.
I know that Christmas shopping is a lot of fun for some of us and something that requires medication for the rest of us to get through. Just try to focus on why you are doing it in the first place. That joy on Christmas morning when somebody opens a gift that you've found and they are pleased at your effort.
Or they find that the label maker really is pretty cool after all.