While it's true that the stores offer all kinds of discounts and deals on this special day, realize that it is merely a marketing ploy to instill panic and fear in the hearts of those who don't know better or have not read my extremely informative blog. G.S. insights to consider, and act upon include:
- Retailers want your money any day of the week. Meaning, there will be other sales and promotions up until Christmas Day, and probably better as Christmas draws closer.
- Buy early what you can online to avoid crowds and malls and ensure timely delivery. If you wait too long, problems with availability and delievery can arise. However, I almost never buy clothes or shoes online because I really need to see and inspect apparel first hand and I hate having to return things in the mail.
- Don't buy anything for yourself until after Christmas. First, you never know what you might get as a gift. Second, the sales after Christmas are even better than on Black Friday.
- If you can, take a day or two off of work in December to go Xmas shopping (a Monday or Tuesday, let's say). If you can't, go as early in the day as possible on a weekend. Except if you live in Bergen County, NJ where the stores are CLOSED on Sunday because of some 3,000 year-old "blue law" that was surely inspired by religion.
- Avoid shopping until after Nov. 20 because Mercury is in retrograde. OK, I read this somewhere, that you shouldn't buy electronics because of this crazy astrology stuff that I don't believe in. Except that I'm not going to buy anything until after early next week. Call me superstitious.
- Buy gifts at stores with good return policies. This unfortunately usually means going to the big department/chain stores, however, it's worth it in the end because your loved ones can get what they really want, or what fits them...and don't you want to spend your money effectively? One year I decided to only shop at independent stores and it was a huge debacle where nothing was returnable, or only for store credit good for a week.
- Downsize the list of people you buy gifts for, if only to reduce your stress during the holidays. Can you buy one big gift for your uncle's entire family, instead of one gift each for your uncle, aunt and three cousins? Can you arrange a dinner out with all of your friends instead of buying each of them a present? All of this rabid gift-giving can really get overwhelming and I believe that there are better ways to enjoy the holiday (food, drink) and each other than via a new green pullover fleece!
- URGENT NOTE: BOYFRIENDS/HUSBANDS MUST BUY GIRLFRIENDS/WIVES NICE GIFTS AND VICE VERSA. Cost isn't necessarily the issue, it is really the (serious and creative) thought that counts, I swear. And if you don't do it, you suck and will be in the dog house, possibly for eternity.
I will provide more holiday shopping insight and experiences during the festive season! Stay tuned.