The annual holiday buying post

The holidays are approaching. Well, there are always holidays approaching, but I don’t mean National Pancake Month or Gorilla Suit Day. We’re talking the Super Bowl of holidays (which does not, of course, include the Super Bowl.) According to the calendar, Hannukah this year starts at sunset on December 20th this year and runs until sunset on the 28th. The same calendar claims that Christmas starts December 25th this year; if it runs one day, twelve days, or never ends, that’s up to you. (Warning: a never-ending Christmas will lead to a severe lords-a-leaping shortage.)

As those of you who have been reading this blog for a while (and have been memorizing it) will know that every year at about this time I write a post with general gift advice and a plug or two. Most of these may seem familiar. But here I go again:

  • If you need to give a gift to someone not nearby who doesn’t really need any stuff that you can think of, give to their local food bank. That will help the world they live in, both by feeding people and by getting money to a place where it is likely to recirculate quickly.
  • Someone forwarded me an email suggesting that gifts of hired services would do well this year – pay someone to paint their house, mow their lawn, write them a song, cut their hair. The giftee gets something, and the money goes to support the sort of servicefolks who are in tougher times right now. That’s a valid thought.
  • If you’re going to give gifts of physical objects – and certainly, I’m not arguing against that; I like both givin’ and gittin’ stuff myself – to people who aren’t nearby, ordering online is actually quite a reasonable way to go. Not only are the prices good and selection good, but you save yourself a trip to the long lines at the post office, and the shipping can be as cheap as “free”. (And one added bonus with some of Amazon’s products: they get some manufacturers to put products in packaging that was designed more to be opened, rather than to display the product on the shelf, which means that the recipient doesn’t have to hack at that MP3 player’s clamshell case with a pair of pruning shears.)
  • Even if you’re going to be going to someone’s house for the holidays, you may want to have Amazon ship the present there. It used to be that it just meant less you’d have to carry on your trip. With modern airtravel restrictions, however, it means fewer things that you have to worry about whether you can legally put them in your carry on, and with the recent increase in extra-baggage fees, the cost of bringing things with you can be high. Plus, Amazon can wrap the gift (although it will be in Amazony gift wrapping; they use to have a selection of wrappings to choose from, but no longer.)
  • As a side note on the previous: Even if you’re buying gifts locally, consider shipping them ahead rather than packing them for the flight – shipping is generally much cheaper than extra-bag fees, and you can wrap the presents before sending them; you’re not supposed to be gift-wrapping items being carried on a plane these days.
  • If you are going to order through Amazon, I’d appreciate you stopping by or the blog and click on one of the links there to get to Amazon, instead of going to Amazon directly. Even if you don’t order what you linked on, even if you don’t order Peanuts stuff, I’ll get a small commission on your order – and it doesn’t add a cent to what you’re charged. That commission, particularly from this time of year, is what makes this blog a viable, legit thing for me to spend my time and money on.

So, what’s on the good giving list this year? Well, if you’re here, you might be thinking of giving Peanuts stuff. Right about now, there’s a lot of new Christmas Peanuts stuff out, but I tend to discourage giving Christmas-themed presents for Christmas; it seems to me that’s when people are peaking on Christmas; two days later, you may still be eating the leftovers but you probably don’t need a book that plays Christmas carols at that point (if you’re stopping by to see the grandkids a few days before Christmas, however, that might actually be a nice gift.) Although, admittedly the box set of the classic specials is a good deal right now.¬† But still, a nice non-holiday jigsaw puzzle is good for any time (particularly a long cold winter), a cute shirt will be worn for years, and books… how about a nice big book of strips? Or hey, if you want a big bargain – go with a remaindered copy of my interactive book The Peanuts Collection. People were saying it seemed a bargain at $35; at $14, it’s an ultradiscount.

Beyond that… don’t stress over it. If you don’t let yourself be happy on the holidays, you’ll have no joy to spread!


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