Best way to shop for Christmas

Christmas. Some people claim there’s a war on it, but use a medium other than television and you’ll see you can’t escape it. Commercials, promotions for store sales, even songs on radio stations will tell you Christmas is coming. With each year passing, it seems we’re all getting an earlier head start. I saw Christmas decorations in some outlet stores as early as September, and some radio stations started playing Christmas songs around Halloween! Christmas is turning into a spending free-for-all, similar in the way creditors try to offer you credit cards. You’ll probably be making lists for things to buy pretty soon, if you haven’t already, but what exactly is the best way to shop for your Christmas gifts?

Avoid Black Friday. Every major retail store in America promotes a sale the day after Thanksgiving. It’s affectionately called Black Friday, and it can leave you blue and black. When stores first started promoting this “holiday,” they would open their doors at 6 AM. Just as Christmas promotions in media have gotten earlier, so too have store openings on Black Friday. Now, we have stores opening at midnight and even earlier! Advice? Don’t do it. You’ll be losing a lot of precious sleep just to save a few bucks on something that might already be sold out, anyway. A major side effect of sleep loss is irritability, and this ultimately leads to people doing stupid things. In 2008 a Wal-Mart employee in New York was trampled to death by a crowd of approximately 2,000. Don’t be a member of the sheeple.

Small Business. A response to the mindless violence of sleepless shopping is Small Business Saturday. This is an event sponsored by American Express, encouraging the public to go shopping at local businesses the Saturday after Thanksgiving. More than 200 other organizations support the movement, such as Google and Facebook. American Express offers a $25 statement credit to the first 200,000 cardholders who register their cards to shop at local businesses. Even if you don’t have AmEx or you don’t shop on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, supporting a local business may help out the general economy of your city or town, as they reinvest more of their profits than national chains.

Shop online. Amazon.com sells a lot more than just books. You can also check out retail stores’ websites, but you may be able to find a better deal with an online retailer without the worry of possibly getting trampled in a store. Before making an online purchase, you should always compare prices with items being sold in stores. Read the description of the specific item you’re purchasing online, because it may have already been used and not in the best condition. Standard shipping and handling will typically cost four to five dollars. Your purchased item usually takes one or two weeks to be delivered, and it will cost much more if you choose express delivery.

Christmas is supposed to be about spending time with family. It’s an end-of-the-year celebration, giving way to a positive outlook for the new year. It has slowly become three months [or more] of nonstop advertisements and examples of humanity’s lower moments in trying to save a few dollars. By supporting local businesses or shopping online, you may be able to spend quality time with your family and save some cash at the same time. Take this information into account when you Christmas shop in the future, and you will avoid being trampled.

David Pilley

David Pilley

David Pilley is a May 2010 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a B.A. in communication studies and a creative writing minor. He is a native of Raleigh, North Carolina.

He played clarinet for the Marching Tar Heels in 2005 and 2006. He also volunteered for STV, the student-run television station at UNC-Chapel Hill, in the spring of 2010. He shot video, wrote scripts, and acted for “Off the Cuff,” UNC’s longest running sketch comedy show. He has the rare distinction of having lived in a dorm all four years of his undergraduate college career. He was also on Franklin Street on the night of April 4, 2009. His future plans are to pursue a master’s degree in journalism and to one day work for the media as a sports journalist or broadcaster.

Being one of eight children, David realizes finance is an important topic to everyone, regardless of his/her knowledge of the subject. His interests are in personal finance, budgeting, and savings.

In his spare time, David enjoys watching sports and standup comedy, as well as doing crossword puzzles and writing in the first person. He also thoroughly enjoys trivia and, one day, hopes to participate on the game show Jeopardy!, where he will try to break Ken Jennings’ 74-game win streak.
David Pilley

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