Christmas Countdown

Its countdown time, only 7-days left until Christmas. I hope you have finished your Christmas shopping. If you haven’t finished your shopping list yet, be prepared to face long lines, crowded stores and rude shoppers.

We went out yesterday after church to have our very first family picture taken. We were even greeted with some good news; the pictures will be back in time for Christmas. What a surprise. We have always intended on getting our pictures taken but the thought of getting all dressed up and actually doing it was something that just never seemed to happen.

Yesterday, we were getting ready to watch our son perform his first Christmas program at our local church. He was all dressed up in suit coat and tie, looking every bit the part of the “businessman” he was playing in the program. It provided the perfect excuse.

The kids did a terrific job and we were able to get every moment on videotape. I can’t wait to sit down and watch his performance again and again. What a wonderful early Christmas gift.

Speaking of Christmas gifts. In my several shopping trips, I’ve been able to find some terrific deals this year. Mervyn’s has much of their inventory on sale at 50% off and more. I picked up several plush spa robes as gifts, they were marked “70%, when you take an additional 40% off at checkout.” I couldn’t believe my luck. The price for each robe $14.98.

Not only do I get a great deal of pleasure thinking of giving such a warm luxurious present to the people I love, but I saved more money than I ever thought possible in the process. I only wish I could have saved as much on all the pictures we ordered. We ended up spending much more than I planned but how can you put a price on such a lasting gift?

My entire family still lives in Michigan, so gift giving for them gets to be a real challenge each year. We normally end up spending almost on shipping costs as we do on the gifts themselves. So, this year, I tried to do make smart decisions.

I had the bright idea of buying gift cards for my grown children and the grandchildren. Let’s just say it didn’t work out quite as I had planned, so I abandoned that idea. [Read about my experience.]

Instead, I’ve done much of my Christmas shopping online with Amazon. Amazon offers a delightful selection of merchandise and with you spend at least $25, shipping is free on many items. I’ve found it a terrific way to save on shipping costs and get the items that my family really wants.

However, if you want an item to be delivered by Christmas, time is running out. Order made at this late date, will likely not arrive before December 25, 2006. Though I will say, they have surprised me in the past. One year a package I ordered from Amazon was actually delivered on Christmas Day. What a shock that was.

If you haven’t finished your shopping list, don’t be afraid to check out some of the better stores in your area. Not only will you find some wonderful deals to be had, but also you will often find better quality merchandise for the same price or less, than you will find at discount stores like Walmart, Target and K-mart.

The big bonus is that the better stores aren’t nearly as crowded, allowing you to get in and out with your purchases in much less time. I found that Mervyn’s had many of the same items as our local Walmart, for the exact same price.

I love it when I can get a good deal and I don’t have to go to Walmart to do it. I equate Walmart with low prices, low quality merchandise and even lower customer service standards but I’ll save all that for another article.

From my family to yours, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and best wishes a marvelous New Year.

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