Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas McShopping, 2007 Edition

For years now my Christmas shopping has always been last minute. It’s not because the bonus comes in late; I really don’t want to think about it too much until it’s necessary. It’s because if I give myself time to think about what to give whom, I end up thinking of alternatives and then I find myself unable to decide. So by going last-minute I take out the option of pondering too long over gifts. It’s decision-making by looming deadline.

The disadvantage of that method is that at times I overspend; I don’t have time to canvass or compare prices. So this year I instituted a couple of changes in my Christmas shopping for the family.

No gift goes over Php500. After reviewing my finances I placed a cap on spending. Yeah I know 500 seem cheap. But then you’ll be surprised at the items you can buy at less than 500 pesos and still make people happy. One exception: gifts for children below 5 years old. With them I allowed myself to overshoot a bit.

Happily I only transgressed once, with the gift for my older brother. But it was a Beatles coffee table book that the others can enjoy (most of us in the family are Beatles fans) and it was just slightly above the 500-mark, so I let it slide.

If possible all gifts—or their packaging—should be quadrilateral in shape. I’m so not good at gift-wrapping, and while there are gift paper bags you can buy in any bookstore, they’re more expensive than just relying on gift wrappers and scotch tape. So I’m making it easy on myself.

As always, there were two exceptions. But one of them I had gift-wrapped at the store, so whoopee. The other, while not quadrilateral in shape, can be folded into one. So: whew.

No gifts to people in the workplace. Excluded are people who were friends long before we became co-workers. It’s bah-humbuggy and so Scrooge-y, but so what. That includes people who’ve given me gifts; gift giving is not about tit-for-tat.

I can only cite one imperative why I imposed this rule this year: I need to save money. The less folks on my gift list, the better.

Do not hesitate to buy gifts for one’s self. But that’s where my discipline faltered a bit this year. In almost every store I ended up buying a gift for someone else and one for me. Luckily I only targeted two stores where I can buy all my Christmas gifts.

Limit your shopping to a couple of venues. In a couple of Christmases past, I bought everyone something from just one store. (My favorite all-in-one shop? The Body Shop. Again, excluded here are children 5 years old and below.) It made for such shopping ease. But after a couple of times it becomes boring. So limit your shopping to just around three shops. Or limit yourself to shopping in just one mall.

In the past several years my mall of choice was Shangri-la Mall. This year I chose Rockwell. Parking is not a problem and the crowd, while still plentiful, is of the genteel, “I-don’t-push-people-aside” kind. Very anti-Tutuban. Snobbish? Not really. But the less crowded malls are less crowded precisely because they cater to the hoity-toity. So go hoity-toity, but don’t buy hoity-toity.

I started shopping at around 4pm; I finished in about an hour and a half.

Every year I ponder if next Christmas I should buy gifts very early. And every year I put off the decision ‘til last minute.


Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas Joel. T his is Randy. Just to share my personal rule in Christmas gift giving... I apply the "Pareto Law or the 80/20 rule"... Simply put, you identify the people you consider to be your "trivial many" (80%), and your "critical few" (20%). And then spend 80% of your budget on that 20% critical few... and 20% of your budget to the 80% trivial many.

Happy Holidays. Your blog definitely, is one of the few blogs bookmarked on my computer. Thanks for sharing so much of yourself to your readers for our entertainment, education, and confusion. =)


joelmcvie said...

@RANDY: Entertain and confuse, yes. But I never ever meant to educate. =)

And instead of Pareto Law, I have the McVie Law: identify the 80% trivial many and the 20% critical few, and then spend for the 20% and forget the rest.