Holiday Time Made Much Easier
By Charlie Peart
It’s that time of year, folks. It starts about the day after Halloween when you walk into Walmart or the local mall and all the decorations are up for “the winter holidays”. And that means it’s time to start shopping for presents. This is a chore I dread every year, probably because I have experienced my share of holiday stress with both gift-giving, gift-receiving, and preparations for that “family holiday dinner”.
Regarding gift giving and receiving, I have decided that giving a gift card is definitely a stress reducing and much easier way to go. Shipping costs are high; really high. When you buy the perfect gift for that relative that lives on the other side of the country just remember that Santa isn’t going to deliver it to them in his sleigh; UPS or the post office will ship it but it’s going to cost you. Last year my wife found the cutest tin of chocolates for my sister who, as a fellow cat lover, would so adore the sweet kittens displayed all over the tin. The only problem was that the shipping cost for the chocolates was twice the cost of the item itself.
Gift cards can be a great way of dodging long lines at the post office and shipping costs because you simply slip them into the Christmas card you are sending to faraway friends or relatives. The top gift cards for 2017 are as follows: iTunes, Starbucks, Walmart, Victoria Secret, Target, and Amazon. A complete list can be found online. However, you must be careful that you not send a gift card for a chain store that is going out of business or a store or restaurant that does not exist in the recipient’s local area. I once made this mistake and my friend actually returned the card to me in the mail with a short note telling me that I could surely find better use for it than he could. Oops! This faux pas is closely related to the giving of a restaurant card to one of your favorite dining establishments, only to learn later that the recipient hates certain food types or is allergic to seafood. Remember that not everyone loves your favorite hang-out.
I also learned this from experience: Never attempt to purchase clothing or music for teenagers. Whatever you choose will not be considered cool by them. Alternately, always check with parents first before buying cartoon character based toys for toddlers and young children. You don’t want to gift them with something that was really “in” about 5 years ago and now they won’t even recognize. Their parents can let you know if the Teenage Ninja Turtles are still a hot item or if their little one now prefers Paw Patrol characters, but this is actually another endorsement for just giving a stress free gift card.
That’s my suggestions on how to reduce stress when it comes to buying gifts, but what about receiving? It’s actually stressful to me to receive something I can’t use, no matter the good intentions of the giver. What do I now do with the unwanted gift? Warning: Don’t re-gift something you received and don’t want, as it will clog up a drawer or closet and you might re-gift it by mistake next year to the very person you received it from this year. I know, as I have done this. Plus, one year I received something from a friend with the obvious give-away of the same re-taped wrapping paper and the To and From tag with the original giver and recipient’s names still on it. Another reason not to re-gift is if you didn’t like the weird, fuzzy bunny slippers or the shirt that says “Number 1 Grandpa” (when you’re not even a grandfather), chances are the person you want to re-gift them to won’t either. Probably best to just give the item to charity where someone else might be able to use it.
Now how do you reduce the stress when it comes to the BIG holiday dinner? Well, maybe you could take an idea from our friends in Japan. 3.6 million Japanese will celebrate Christmas this year by eating from a party bucket of fried chicken. It’s become a national tradition in a country that had no particular Christmas tradition until the mid-seventies. It seems that the founder of Japan KFC woke up one night with the idea of a fried chicken party bucket for Christmas. His national promotion beginning in 1974 took off and now millions of Japanese look forward to ordering the family meal bucket, sometimes a year in advance, because in December it’s that popular. So skip cooking the turkey, the stuffing and making the pies. Too stressful! Many supermarkets and some restaurants and deli’s offer a complete family meal with turkey and all the trimmings. All you need to do is order, reheat, and serve.
That’s my advice looking ahead to the holidays this year. Happy shopping and happy holidays!