Sale-Fail – It’s the most wonderful time of the year (to buy things you don’t want and your kids don’t need)!

With a simple Google search I am able to find literally hundreds of Black Friday ads for kids’ toys and electronics. Most of the sales start on Thursday evening which is confusing to me. Isn’t thanksgiving supposed to be about spending time with our families and being thankful for all the non-material things we have in our life? Don’t even get me started on Cyber Monday. I feel very overwhelmed and confused. The cynical side of me thinks that stores increase prices just to slap a huge red sticker on them so that the typical consumer is duped into buying hundreds of dollars of things we do not need or want.  And by typical consumer I mean me.

As the media is consumed by Occupy Wall Street protestors, I wonder…are retailers going to make their numbers this year? Are we typically smart and price conscious shoppers going to suddenly lose our minds and buy a bunch of toys for our kids that they will be bored with by New Year’s Day simply because they are deeply discounted? When I first moved to South Florida I was consumed by the big box stores and seemingly discounted prices. As time passed I realized that I was really spending hundreds of dollars on things I didn’t need or even really want. Theses ‘things’ seemed like a good deal and I didn’t want to miss out. I imagine that I am not alone in feeling a little out of sorts and it is not even Thanksgiving yet. How am I going to maintain control this holiday season? 

This year I have already started buying for my kids. I am hoping that this will help reduce the pressure I feel at holiday time. There are things that I probably would have bought and given to my kids had it not been holiday time, and I am simply saving them instead of giving them. For example, at my kids’ school book fair my kid really wanted an invisible ink pen. I told her no, bought it and hid it. My other kid likes to wear jerseys when he goes to sporting events, and he needs a new hockey one. Pay attention to what your kids really want or already need, from places that you visit on a frequent basis. This will help to reduce the anxiety of feeling like you are missing out on some great deals. I also bought an extra book for each kid at the school book fair. I know that these were books they are interested in and I helped support their school.

Last week was catalog week. You know which thick glossy red one I am talking about…..the big one. I gave each kid a pen and asked them to circle their wish list. Amazingly (or not) virtually every item in that book was labeled as only $xx.xx!, hottest gift, free add on etc. If I take two steps into that store any good intentions and conservative spending will go right out the window. If you are a savvy consumer you can find all of these deals plus free shipping from your living room.

We are going to have three different families staying with us during our kids’ holiday break. These visitors range in age from 5 months to senior citizens. We often end up sitting around the house hanging out.  We have already taken these families to most of the local attractions…and busy malls are definitely out of the question.

To keep some sanity and hands and minds busy, I am going to set up a puzzle table for everyone to work on. I am going to buy a bunch of different puzzles ranging in difficulty and leave them out. I am hopeful that these will be fairly inexpensive gifts that everyone can do together. Wish me luck!