I have to admit, I avoid this yearly stampede. That doesn't mean I don't appreciate getting discounts and deals on holiday gifts. And of course, I share a lot of my art around the holidays! Even if you do enjoy the Black Friday experience, perhaps you'd like other ideas to fill out your gift list. Just a few--
- Consider shopping online. Many retailers with etail storefronts will be offering deals the Monday after Thanksgiving: "Cyber Monday." What could be more relaxing than surfing and shopping from home? Your gifts will be delivered right to your door, often with free shipping. Try the website http://www.naughtycodes.com/ to find discount codes for almost every store before you shop.
- Dover Books is a great idea for those who are on a tight budget but still want to give a meaningful gift. The high-quality books from this publisher include thrift editions of classics for under 5 dollars, great activity books for kids, and new, lavishly illustrated hard-cover collector's editions. Plus, you can search their extensive library (over 9,000 titles) online, from the comfort of your couch. Here's a wonderful coupon code, but it's good only until November 29: $20.00 off an order of 40.00 or more. Enter code: NOVE. (There's free shipping with any order of $50.00 or more.) Be sure to check out their holiday collection featuring Christmas classics from Dickens, coloring and sticker books for kids, and vintage wrapping papers.
- Shop local and shop small on Saturday, November 26--it's the official "Shop Small Business Day." In this tight economy, small shop owners are really feeling the pinch. Join the effort by making just one purchase from a small, independent business owner, whether online or in a brick-and-mortar store.
- Consider hand-crafted gifts this year. Everyone loves to add a new, handmade ornament to their collection (google "salt dough ornaments" and gather the kids around), and who doesn't love cookies at this time of year? Don't feel intimidated by fancy cut-out gingerbread men and ornately decorated sugar cookies; people like those simple-to-make chocolate chip cookies just as much.
- Give your time! Someone you know might be able to use a little help, such as dog-walking, babysitting, or house-sitting. Older friends could often use a hand with lawn mowing and debris removal. Younger people could benefit from your skills as a tutor. Writing your offer in a festive holiday card and affixing a bow to the envelope completes this gift.
- If you exchange gifts with family, co-workers, or a friendly group, remember that half the fun of presents is the unwrapping and the surprise. Most people we know have just about everything they need, so the the gift of the fun and unexpected is more important than the item. How about agreeing that all gifts in the exchange come from thrift stores or rummage sales? You'll be repurposing and recycling and the treasure hunt for truly unique presents will be more fun for you. And everyone will spend a fraction of what they would buying new. In many cases, thrift store operations benefit charities, like the Salvation Army and Goodwill, so your purchases will help these organizations as well.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Whether you venture out with the masses this weekend or not, enjoy your friends, family, good food, and a little bit of relaxation. Keep in mind those you know who may be lonely this time of year. The gift of hospitality, of sharing your holiday with someone else, is the most precious gift of all. Is there someone you know who needs a last minute invitation to your dinner tomorrow?