I love Christmas for many reasons. First, remembering the reason for the season: the birth of Christ. Then there's decorating and the smell of fresh-cut pine (or via candle if you have a fake tree). Time spent with family and friends. Cookies! Sending and receiving cards. Parties. Christmas carols. Christmas music in general. O Holy Night. Mashed potatoes at family celebrations. Nativity scenes. Egg nog.
The best part for me is buying presents. Yes, I said buying. While I like a good gift as much as anyone, I really love figuring out the perfect present and then watching my loved one's face as the open it. Priceless, each and every time.
I try to keep my eyes open for good gifts all year round, sometimes stocking up on a birthday or Christmas present 6 months before it'll ever be given. Sometimes it means I have a few options for one person, which is always a nice feeling!
Some of my favorite presents I've bought include clay pigeons for my cousin Jon (complete with a drawing of Bambi that said "better these than Bambi"), Alice Cooper's book about golf for my cousin Adam who lurves heavy metal and golf, a variety of Earl Gray teas for my mama, and the goody bags I create for my grandparents with fun wine, crackers, soups, and more. That's just off the top of my head.
I get antsy if I'm not mostly done with Christmas shopping by Thanksgiving. Maybe it's all those years working retail but I hate shopping around the holidays. You couldn't pay me to participate in Black Friday. Well, I take that back. If you gave me an unlimited shopping spree, I would gladly do damage with your money! In any case, I hate the crowds, I hate rude shoppers, I hate how products you're searching for have sold out by the time you get there. I'd much rather shop now than later. There are two exceptions to this rule: Kohls and Borders always have great Christmas sales. I simply get in and get out- and definitely at the beginning of December.
The other reason I love shopping early is to display all my wrapped presents under the tree and then doling them out as I see people. It's so nice to have a pretty arrangement for the whole month. (My family has always been one that decorates a day or two after Thanksgiving and I've kept that tradition going myself.)
It may be silly/OCD to think about Christmas at the end of October but I spent last weekend planning for Christmas. I wrote down who I'll be shopping for. I also wrote down who will get this year's Ode to Friendship CD. I started the mixes several years ago because 1) I love sharing the music I listen to and 2) it means I get to give more presents. That's how much I love giving gifts- I had to figure out a way for me to give presents that doesn't break the bank! I wrote down all the artists that I'll feature and over the next month will figure out which songs make the cut.
Finally, I wrote my list of people to send Christmas cards to. I have some ideas up my sleeve on what to do this year so stay tuned...
What Christmas traditions are you looking forward to? What's your gift-giving strategy?