Jen On: Do you buy holiday presents like you buy books?

Shopping BagNot too long ago Sophia did a post on how people buy their books.  From what I could tell most of us buy on impulse when it comes to our books.  I am most definitely one of the impulse buyers.  If something looks or sounds good, I will snatch it up.  With Christmas coming up, I got to wondering if everyone was the same way when it came to buying presents for their people.

My extended family has this crazy thing where we all draw names.  I say it is crazy because there are 11 of us and 5 of them are my family.  So if you do the math that means that there is 1 other person that I (because I do the shopping.  My six month old is not going to be buying anything) would not buy for.  Last year the person we didn’t draw was my mom.  Come on.  Am I really not going to buy a Christmas present for my mom?  Seriously.

Long ago my mom tried to instill planning in to me.  My mom, bless her heart, starts her Christmas shopping for the next year on December 26.  I swear I was getting boxes of present for my kids in June this year.  Who has all their Christmas shopping done in June?  I think by that point I might have considered what I was going to buy but to already have it bought, wrapped and shipped?  No way.

One year I tried it my mom’s way.  I started looking in January and bought a ton of stuff throughout the year.  I was pretty darn proud of myself because I had everyone done before Thanksgiving rolled around.  I was so smug thinking I could sit back and prop up my feet for the rest of the year.

And then you know what happened?  My true nature took over and I impulse bought a whole second set of Christmas presents for everyone.  Fail.  All planning ahead did for me was make me spend more.  I came to the conclusion that it might be best for me to wait until those final two months of the year.  While everyone else enjoyed my impulse buys I was crying to myself as I paid the credit card bill that month.

So does your holiday shopping resemble your book shopping?  Are you one of those dreaded planners who sets a budget and sticks to it?  Or do you fly by the seat of your pants?  How do you feel about December 24 shopping?  Let me know!

Everyone who comments and uses the Promo Simple widget below between Dec. 17 – Jan. 1 on blogcation posts will be entered to win a $50 gift card to the online book retailer of their choice. Come back every day! Open to all.


  1. says

    I’m the worst sort of shopper… an impulse buyer combined with a one for you, one for me shopper. I have no self control at Christmas. I normally have budgets and lists, that all goes away after Holiday sells start.

  2. J. D. Chase says

    I definitely fly by the seat of my pants! I can compare my gift shopping to shopping for books – I have some people who are easy to buy for ( like my ‘to be read’ list – I know what I will buy) and then I have people who are difficult to buy for so I just keep looking and buying in the hope that I strike it lucky (any random book that catches my eye – leads to soooooo many impulse book buys!). Wrapping is always left until Christmas Eve, although I always say that I will do it earlier next year … and the reason I don’t – too busy reading all the books I bought on impulse!!!!!

    • says

      If I waited to wrap on Christmas Eve I would be appalled at what I had bought. I wrap as I go and then forget about it. Maybe that is worse?

  3. donnas says

    I try to think about what I want to give as gifts, but I always end up impulse shopping and buying extras. Usually when I see a good deal at least. I try to avoid Christmas Eve shopping if at all possible.

  4. Rebe says

    I plan somewhat. I do most of my shopping in the last 2 months, but I make lists as I go throughout the year.

  5. miki says

    I try to prepare a list starting september and then i gradually buy what i want to finish before december ( so if i have to order somethin it’s still possible) but sometimes i see something i didn’t know was going to be released, published etc and i add that but normally i’m quite prepared

  6. Karen C says

    I normally plan what I’m going to buy but also plan for the impulse buying I know I’ll do. This year I did some traveling across the country so picked up some things that I wouldn’t find where I live.

  7. Jane says

    I never have a plan, but I do try to keep in mind the budget. I do impulse buy, but it’s usually gifts for myself.

  8. erinf1 says

    Yup… my Christmas shopping is impulsive and based on whatever is shiniest. Just like my book buying :)

  9. Trix says

    I semi-plan, semi-fly…at first I have it all in lists and look for coupons, but then as I get desperate I start improvising and spending more.

  10. kathleen says

    I buy early…..then keep buying!!! Always end up with way more than i planned….but everyone ends up happy!

  11. says

    I’m pretty much a pantser. I usually have a rough idea of the main big gift for my daughter, but this year it was the end of November before I decided. I USUALLY only buy for my daughter, my parents and grandmother and something small for my ex (candy) as he’s at our house. This year, we agreed with my parents that I wouldn’t send a gift and would save the money for my daughter to go visit them at spring break and thanks to the play I was overwhelmed with until the 16th, I ended up at Walmart on Thursday night because I only had 3 gifts randomly tossing shit in the cart. LOL Okay, things she needed but there was no time for comparison shopping, just random. Sigh.

    I don’t care for the idea of being done in June. Takes the fun out of the holiday season some. I was actually surprised, I took my daughter to do her shopping today and we even ended up at Best Buy and the lines and parking lots were half empty. Weird, but I’m not complaining.

  12. says

    Normally, I don’t plan. But this year I set a gift buying budget and stuck to it. With books, I’m hopeless. I don’t even try to set a budget cause I would never stick to it.

  13. Catherine says

    Fortunately, I have very few gifts to purchase. I buy for my hubby. I get gift cards for my secretary and for some co-workers. I don’t usually buy for my mom–or the rest of my family. We don’t usually see each other at the holidays. That being said, I usually do browse 1 or 2 places on Christmas Eve–specifically to impulse buy!

  14. says

    Lol, I am both :-) I start my Xmas shopping in January, whenever I see anything I think someone will like I buy it throughout the year and end up with plenty of gifts. So I keep a mastersheet with all the presents I already bought :-)

  15. says

    What When it comes to books, I’m a total impulse shopper. But holiday shopping, I do it early, with a list. Then I nick nickle and dime myself to death until Christmas. :)

  16. Amanda says

    As a shopper I try to before hand think of something specific for each person I plan to buy for but I usually can’t find exactly what I want and end up buying more then I wanted to because I could not buy them exactly what I want.

    You mentioned the gift exchange that your family does and I have to say I have come to find the concept ridiculous in families because it does not save money. My extended family just started this 2 years ago and I find I have to buy more gifts instead of less.

    • says

      We are supposed to do a $25 limit but I can’t stick to that! I can’t just buy my mom 1 present. Or my SIL like two things of soap. Lame.

  17. Krista says

    I have typical amount that I spend on each person and I try to keep a list throughout the year of what the person randomly mentions. However, I don’t usually start buying until October.

  18. Tina B says

    I definitely wait until the last month to buy gifts. I start shopping on Black Friday and then progress from there. I used to wait until the last week, but this year, I started buying gifts when I saw something and I think it worked out better. :)
    Great post.
    Happy Holidays to you and your family!

  19. LSUReader says

    I am not quite so early as your Mom, but I do try to get shopping done throughout the year. I DO NOT like last-minute shopping. And I find it takes days to work my way up to actually wrapping gifts, so I better have them early. Merry Christmas, all.

  20. Tabs says

    I plan in advance and tend to get the bulk of my shopping done just after Thanksgiving.

    I am, however, a last minute knitter. I start early, plan gifts out… And then lose steam. This year, my godson is not getting a handmade dinosaur hat with matching mittens as originaly planned, my very pregnant sister is going to get a stuffed elephant with only one ear if I don’t bunker down and finish that tonight, and my 15-yr-old cousin is getting a hat with an I.O.U. for matching gloves.

  21. Diane says

    We do the list thing and then I go to work. I’m not a last minute shopper because I hate the crowds in the malls. Increasingly I have been doing my shopping online.

  22. Brandee says

    I try to go in with a list but I usually end up getting things impulsively…yes, just like I buy my books! :) But somehow, I think those gifts end up being best because you see something and think “yes! that’s exactly what ___ would want!” Merry Christmas!

  23. Deborah says

    The older I get, the more I lean toward cash and/or gift cards. I usually order the gift cards online and have them sent to family and friends. This way, I don’t have to actually do the “shopping”. I usually exceed my so-called budget.