Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Last Minute Christmas

Bill made a passing comment the other day that has echoed in my head: "It comes around every year." He was talking about putting aside money for winter heating bills, but I was thinking Christmas. Particularly as I still have a long list of things to get done. That's me, I guess. I did write the bulk of these blog posts before Thanksgiving, mind. So I can do things in advance, sometimes.

In the past our family gathered at Mom’s house Christmas Eve for our family gift exchange. There weren’t that many of us but I was never very organized about it all and often threw money at something at the very last minute. I’d like to think I was past this point of procrastination, can't claim that moral high ground just yet. Many times I think it’s just not having taken the time to think what to buy rather than putting off the actual purchase. So I decided to think of some last minute ideas just in case I might need them…

The worst case I remember of last minute shopping was dashing into a 7-11 one Christmas Eve on the way to Mom’s house to buy a carton of cigarettes for my Uncle Pat. They got wrapped in the back room about 5 minutes before they were opened in the living room. I promised myself never to do that again; in future I would buy the cigarettes much earlier…. However, I’m extremely pleased to say that Pat doesn’t smoke anymore and neither do I. In fact I don’t know many people who do smoke anymore and I wouldn't buy them cigarettes now anyhow. It's just the most extreme last minute purchase I remember ever making.

If your loved one likes a particular type of alcohol, this is generally easy to find, unless you live in Utah where not only alcohol but even a cup of hot coffee can be a challenge at times. I always bought Bill’s mom a bottle of sherry for her cupboard, that being the tipple of little old ladies in this country. Since his youngest, Sarah, introduced him to Balvenie Double Wood, this brand of whiskey generally appears on Bill’s wish list.

Chocolate goes down a treat with many people. Of course Brits think American milk chocolate is garbage – Belgian chocolate is the brand of choice, much more bittersweet. I’m completely hopeless since this just isn’t my thing. I suppose given a choice I’d go for white chocolate which is completely beyond the pale. Bill has put on his wishlist that he likes chocolates but only ones with soft centres. I’ve no idea how one assures that they are soft, but perhaps the other chocolate afficianados in his family will know.

Perhaps you know someone would love a cashmere twin set from a posh clothing store but don’t know what precise colour or size. Or someone adores music but you’re not up on the latest pop hits. Some people think cash or vouchers is a cop out but I think better give something useful than useless and having a voucher to use up is as guilt-free shopping as it gets, though I would add that it's not a great gift if it's not enough to buy nearly a whole item, if you follow me.

Bill has also listed cheeses (but not blue) and chutneys (v. British, these) on his wishlist. A few tins of corned beef would also push lots of his buttons. In fact, most any unhealthy food item would likely be a candidate for gift giving if you know that person is that way inclined. When I hit 90 I plan to eat all the crisps (potato chips) I want, but not before.

Buying someone a goat for Christmas has become, in some households, somewhat of a joke; it remains a very good idea. Some folks have a soft spot for developing countries, others for the homeless in their own country, children, aged, religion, women, diseases or conditions, etc. If you know what someone cares deeply about, a charitable contribution in their name can be very popular. Just as with any other gift, the key is to go for the cause they care about, not the one you prefer.

Do you have stock list of last minute gifts?


Anonymous said...

With all our traveling through the year, I pick up different items to use as gifts. These items have gone over well. I brought something for my brother least year that I still haven't found yet. I need a better system of storing these items.

Shelley said...

Yep, Bill's girls got a scarf each that we had picked up in France several years ago. I am a little better about being able to put my hands on these since starting a gift drawer in the bottom of a file cabinet. What I should have done also was to keep a chart of who all has already got a little wooden hippo from The Gambia...how many hippos does a person need, anyhow?