Friday, November 21, 2008

Makin' a List, Checking it Twice

So, how do you feel about Christmas lists? Are they helpful for shopping or a desperate beg for loot? Some people seem to like getting lists and others don't. I know some people who think wish lists are crass and buying gifts off them isn't very personal. On the other hand, I know some people who wouldn't leave the house to go shopping without one. I'm wondering about your opinion. What do you think?

Me, I like Christmas lists. I like getting some hints on what my family wants or needs. I often shop off the list, but it can serve as a jumping off point for when I am really stuck. Then again, I like how we do our lists. They tend to be fairly generic, which means the shopper still has a part in picking out the gift. For example, we'll ask for things like sweaters or earrings. So, I may get my mom a pair of earrings, but I get to pick out which ones, how much to spend, etc. Very rarely do we have really specific items, unless it is a CD, DVD or book. There are a few occasions where we pick out very specific items, but that tends to be a very small part of the wish list. Truthfully, I also like giving my family ideas. Almost always there are things I need that they wouldn't know about unless I told them, so it works out well.

You know what I don't like, though? Amazon wish lists - or any kind of incredibly specific gift list that has the brand, make, color, size and price all pre-determined of each and every gift. That doesn't feel like a list of shopping ideas to me - it's more like a bridal registry. I can understand how some people would love those though. Back in the days when I was in college I worked in the lingerie department of a large upscale department store. Every Christmas husbands and boyfriends would come in, looking a little confused and lost among the slips and racks of pantyhose. They would want help picking out nightgowns or robes, or worst yet, there were always a few men who wanted to buy bra and panty sets and had no idea what size their ladies were! "Ummm.... she's kind of that girl's size but a little smaller on top, and maybe a little bigger on bottom" were fairly common comments. Women, as you know, this is hardly a good method for accurate bra size! It got pretty silly and was a source of amusement to all of us salespeople, well it was right up until the day after Christmas and all the returns started piling in! I bet those guys would have loved a really detailed list!

This year I spent some time making the list I gave my family. I tried to make an even mix of things that I need and can't afford right now, and luxury items that I love, and can't afford right now. My family does Christmas pretty big - but that doesn't mean we aren't frugal. I bet there are very few cases of anything under the tree that was bought at full price! My mom, sister and I are all bargain hunters!

So what about you? How do you do your Christmas shopping?

Photo of his nephew and Santa by: Radio Rover


Frugalchick said...

I looove lists. We all make lists that cover all price ranges and include plenty of things, so everyone has plenty of choices in their shopping/choosing. While I know a lot of people feel it takes out some of the personal aspect of the season, handing in a list has really reduced the clutter around here. If our families are going to ignore our wishes for a small Christmas and get us gifts anyway, then I'd at least like to reduce the burden on the earth and get things I will *use.*

Dawn said...

Frugalchick, I'm with you! Your lists sound a lot like ours - we ask for things in a variety of price points too, and we have enough on the list so you "know" you aren't supposed to get everything, it is more about giving people choices. Lists also help me with my spending, since I can search for bargains ahead of time.

Catie said...

Oh yeah, this is a tough one! On the one hand, lists are helpful to everyone. On the other hand, I kind of expect the people I love to know me enough to be able to shop for me without a list! Unfair, I know. But I like seeing what they come up with! Often it's something I love more than anything I actually wanted!! Because the truth is, it's not about the gift it's about the love behind the gift.

In my family we do give each other lists, but then we also give lots of gifts that aren't on the list. To me, it's a nice balance.

I once knew a woman who would go to a jewelry store, pick out her gift, and then tell her husband. Now THAT bugs me. What's special about that?

Dawn said...

Catie - I am with you. For a one time gift being given with a "shopping spree" to a favorite jewelers might be fun, but to pick out your own gift every year? That seams sort of sad.

Mary@SimplyForties said...

I love lists. In our family we do a drawing for the "kids" of my generation and then buy gifts for all of the nieces and nephews. Lists from that generation of kids is really helpful. My son is 22 now so I have no idea what 10 year old boys want. Sometimes I'm really clever and shop "off" list but other times I'm not and it's very useful to have the lists. My generation will list things if we have anything in mind that we are looking for.

Like Catie, we provide lists but the givers are free to use them or not.

Dawn said...

Mary - We are a pretty small family so we buy for each other, however, if there were more of us I would certainly want to draw names. Sounds like you have a goo Christmas plan in place.

Frugalchick said...

Oh, and you've been tagged! Check out my blog for the details.

Debt Dieter said...

I love lists! I can't think of anything worse than buying something for someone that they won't find value in, especially family.