The day after Thanksgiving -- Black Friday -- has come and gone, which is certainly something to be thankful for. The grasping day announced that the holiday season is upon us and instigated the hustle and bustle that makes me loathe aspects of the cheery season: atrocious parking, lines that snake around the store and the same holiday songs played on loop for the next month or more.
But we all put up with Bono and Bob Geldolf still asking if Africa does in fact know it's Christmas some 20 years later because this season is about giving, not receiving.
This sugarcoated torture is supposedly worth the hassle because of the look-- oh the look!--on the faces of your loved ones when they tear through the wrapping and are enraptured with the gift bestowed upon them. And thoughtful gifts do bestow a season of warm fuzzies in these moments.
But sometimes getting to that point is a real pain in the ass--and not because of the reasons listed above. Chances are if you've already begun your shopping, it's for the easy people. These are the friends and family members who have provided you with Web site links to the precise item they want, including providing color and size. They are the gifts you purchased with the person in front of you. The gifts you probably already have hidden away in a dark corner are the ones that leave no leeway. These are the spot-on, desired gifts that require no receipts; they are golden all the way to the barcode number.
The items left for purchase still on your list? Those are for those tough-as-nails, impossible people who proclaim that they don't need or want a gift, but you know you must buy something for them.
Buy them a diamond encrusted Ferrari and they look at it like it was a pair of tube socks. They are the people who need that first great impression, like the first time a boyfriend or girlfriend meets the parents.
These are the so-called friends and family who cause you to be at a superstore on December 20 either scrambling for last minute crap or convulsing in a panic attack. All to the sounds of Paul McCartney cheerily repeating that he's simply having a wonderful Christmas time.
This year please put down the paper bag you're breathing into and/or release the tin of tri-flavored popcorn. You can do it this year, finding those impossible gifts, but you have to act now.
Million Dollar Gift
Begin with the people you're with the most and the most familiar. If your eyes and ears are open, notice that they drop subtle hints. Take them with you as you shop for a relative. As you pick out things, take note of what they pick up but don't purchase. Listen as they recount the fun they had recently in Las Vegas or a restaurant they recently went to and loved.
A weekend getaway to Sin City may not be in the budget, but a care package for a night of gambling in Tulsa -- gift cards to casino restaurants and gambling money -- might be an idea. It's not a cop-out, buying a gift card, because you'll write your heartfelt intentions in the card: "Bringing Las Vegas to you. Love, Your child."
Gambling might not tug on the heartstrings, but you can always find something that does. Never underestimate a gift card. No, it won't cause tears to swell in their eyes, but you can add a personalized touch.
Personalized items are great. It doesn't have to be their initials monogrammed on a towel, but a heartfelt, sentimental object engraved or stitched with an inside joke is fabulous.
Sentimentality also works with photography. Buy a nice picture frame and then round up the usual suspects to snap a photograph--the whole family, the grandkids, whoever. Chances are, someone who's hard to buy for has been complaining about the lack of a good family portrait for years. Find a friend to shoot the picture and save big money.
Keep the Peace
If you're not finding the ultimate gift at regular big-box stores, go other places to jolt some ideas. Urban Tulsa Weekly is encouraging Tulsans to shop local this season. By "pledging to spend $100 at locally-owned stores, you'll contribute to our $29.6 million local economy. That's an estimated $4.4 million more for our community than if your shopping dollars were spent at a non-local, big-box retailer." Local stores feature much more interesting options for those who are hard to please.
And, while keeping loved ones in mind, there's an incentive for you to shop locally. When you email "I Pledge" -- pledging your commitment to spend $100 in a locally owned store - to email@example.com, UTW automatically enters you for a chance to win gift certificates from independent local merchants and restaurants like Dwelling Spaces, Kelly Herrera Stylist, Priscilla's, Circle Cinema, Tulsa Scooters, Riverwalk Movies, Ale Haus, Osage Million Dollar Elm Casino, Magoo's, BCBC Modern, Jeannette Emigh Stylist." The pledge deadline is December 15 and winners are announced December 18. Check out the ad on page 48 for more information.
Local boutiques are a great resource for purchasing gifts and local service-oriented places are good for gift purchasing as well. People rarely treat themselves, so why not treat someone to a gift certificate for a massage, a facial or a manicure/pedicure.
Power in numbers. Gang up with others to buy one fabulous gift for someone. This typically rings true with parents, who no longer fuss about small, knick-knack gifts. Well that's a load if I've ever heard one because think of all they did for you. Round up the siblings, everyone chip in and get the person or couple one great gift. The holidays aren't about quantity, but quality. They'll be more excited to open one great gift than a bunch of random lame gifts. But, to keep the peace during the holidays, be reasonable with contributors. If you chip in $100 but a broke sibling only throws in $20, make do.
These plans aren't bulletproof, so certainly take the time to get gift receipts and toughen up. While you may think the brilliant idea you've conjured is a homerun, they may think you've lost your mind. Some Scrooges can never be won.
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