Sunday, December 2, 2007

Ho-Ho, Oh No!!!

I swear to you that I have not been so stuffed from Thanksgiving that I've been unable to post. Instead, I have been chained to my computer writing the proposals for three new books for 2009. I have now been freed, just in time to discover that Christmas is right around the corner. Oh, no!

Last year, my first holiday season in 10 years without owning a bookstore and gift shop, I made a particularly horrendous discovery. It is much harder to get all the Christmas shopping done when you can't do it in your own store. I actually had to go out to real stores in actual malls with mobs and mobs of people. How do you do it? I was about to tear my hair out.

Now I absolutely love the holidays. I love finding exactly the right gift for people. I even love wrapping so much that I keep trying to convince a friend of mine to ask his boss if I can come into their shop and wrap gifts for their customers this season. So far these guys, who think slapping a bow on a box will do the trick, have declined my generous offer. I also love decorating, listening to holiday music and, when I have the willpower not to eat everything coming out of the oven, I love baking. What I hate are mob scenes and traffic.

I have come up with a few tricks, which I will share. However, if you take advantage of these tricks and steal my parking space from me, there will be consequences.

First, shop in all major discount stores such as Target or Wal-Mart on weekdays and no later than 8 a.m.

Second, if you absolutely must shop in a department store in a mall, find out what time the doors open, be in the parking lot at least 15 minutes prior to that opening time, and in the door the second some jovial employee unlocks it. If possible, be out of the store again within the hour.

Third -- and this probably should be first, now that I think about it -- plan these excursions. Decide ahead of time exactly who you're shopping for that day and what you have in mind. That way you can avoid my tendency to go into Target for three things and come out with two dozen items, many for myself.

Fourth, regarding Christmas cards, buy them the very first time you come across any you like, even if it's not yet Halloween (okay, take this advice next year). Address them while watching football on Sundays, or any other time that has you stationed in front of the TV with your family watching something you don't especially care about. Get the addressing and stamps done -- the mindless part of the task, then if you like to write personalized notes, do that when you have a quiet moment on your own.(Do those ever happen this time of year?)

Fifth, and this is a new one for me, wrap as you buy. I bought a bunch of gift bags in various sizes, tissue paper, gift wrap and ribbon and have it set out. When I get home from shopping, I wrap, stuff, label or whatever then put the ready-to-go gift in whichever grouping it belongs in -- family, friends, business associates. Of course, if I were as organized as I'm pretending to be right now, I would finish shopping for each group before moving onto the next one, but alas, it hasn't worked that way. However, I am proud to say that three boxes of gifts were shipped out of here on Saturday. I'd feel better about that if there weren't another half-dozen boxes to go.

Today, my first day of freedom from writing for a few weeks, I've noticed that a department store I need to visit opens at 10 a.m. I'm on my way. Happy holidays, everyone!

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