Making A List
Be Sure To Check It More Than Twice
By Brian M. Rafferty
It seems that every year the list of people for whom you have to shop gets longer. Whether there are new babies in the family, cousins you haven’t seen in 10 years who are coming in for the holiday, or you work at a bigger place with more people, the holidays can mean spending a lot of time in a store trying to find the right gift.
If that’s your take on holiday shopping, you’ve got a lot to learn. First of all, if you haven’t started your shopping by now, you’re in big trouble. Secondly, you’re not going to find everything for everybody at one store and in one trip. Third, and perhaps most importantly, you forgot to buy a gift for somebody, and you don’t even know it.
If you’re not sure where to do your shopping, choices of retail establishments abound. According to the U.S. Census, in 2004, there were 149,831 clothing and clothing accessories stores; 9,360 department stores; 10,345 hobby, toy and game shops; 33,956 gift, novelty and souvenir shops; 22,902 sporting goods stores; 28,772 jewelry stores; and 11,218 book stores across the nation. With 48,695 malls and shopping centers dotting the U.S. landscape as of 2005, finding places to shop should be no problem.
First and foremost, make a list of everybody for whom you might have to buy a present. This does not mean they will get one; they just might.
For family, be sure to think of: your children, your spouse, your parents, your spouse’s parents, your siblings, your spouse’s siblings, your nieces and nephews, your grandparents, your spouse’s grandparents and any assorted cousin, aunts or uncles who you may see during the holidays.
The Second Wave
Next, move on to co-workers. If you are having a holiday party, office rules may apply, and breaking them for one co-worker over another should be done secretly so as to not draw the anger of the non-gifted. If you do a Secret Santa or something similar, be sure to keep any additional presents a secret. Also, don’t overspend on the pre-set amount because you’ll feel like a chump when the gift you receive in exchange is well within the accepted range while yours is not.
As for your boss, that can be tricky. Odds are “the company” is giving you a gift, in the form of cash or goodies, and your boss is likely not the actual gift-giver. To give him or her a present can actually be a big faux pas, because there may not be anything extra for you in return, making the boss feel bad. You may be best off sticking with a card.
There are all the people whom you interact with on a daily basis that you may not realize are appropriate gift recipients, but if they are constantly doing a job for you, it is good to give them a reward for a job well done.
This includes but is not limited to: your child’s teacher, the garbage man, your mail carrier, your doorman, the gal at the café who always knows your order, the crossing guard outside your daughter’s school, your dry cleaner, your manicurist or anybody else who performs a regular service for you.
Match Gift To Recipient
List each item you can recall anybody on your list saying that they would like. If you don’t know of any, think of the things that they have a lot of (ties, scarves, kitchen implements) and write down a category.
When it comes to those you don’t know well, consider a bottle, chocolate, gift cards or cold hard cash. If you’re still stuck, check out the gift recipient profiles listed on Page 12.
Just remember, get it done as soon as possible so you can relax and enjoy the season.