Sunday, November 25, 2012

Let's Talk about Shopping and Holidays and Rambling Stuff - November 25, 2012

I always watch the whirlwind of gift-buying swirl around me at this time of year. I grew up with Hanukkah - and a low-key Hanukkah at that. Yes, I received a present every night (sometimes it was one to share with my brother, and when my parents got divorced my dad always made sure I still had eight presents from him) but they were usually small things. I don't remember ever really getting a big gift, just something small that was exciting to open. One year my brother and I got a cassette recorder that we used for years to make our own radio shows. I think one year we got a 2XL to share. But mostly it was candy or a small toy or an item of clothing. Plus, Hanukkah moves around - as you probably know - so sometimes it was over and done with by the time my classmates where crowing over their Christmas haul.

When I got older and started dating my not-Jewish-at-all husband, I did enjoy a few Christmases with his very generous and welcoming family. Even then, we kept our own shopping pretty contained - until everyone started having babies and babies and more babies and there were more and more gifts for the kids, as the grown-up gifts dropped off. But then we moved away and needed to start our own traditions, and then we had a child with a disability and our focus moved from getting her presents to, quite honestly, getting her therapies.

So basically most years I'm not the one at the malls or online with a giant list of every single relative and a budget that is strained. It's just not how I was brought up (though seriously, sometimes it looks FUN). Our finances are tight this year - we're both freelancers, though I did just start an exciting new gig that hopefully will help things out for a few months - and most of our money is going toward boring things like bills and food. The kid's teachers and therapists (and oh there are a LOT of those!) are getting a locally made gift from a friend of mine - I've already ordered it (as one big lot) and I just need to pick it up from her.

That said, I indulged in a little shopping on this kick-off-to-the-season weekend. On Black Friday I stayed in, away from the stores and the crowds (nobody in my family does well in crowds - we all get overstimulated, though some of us handle it better than others...and by some of us I mean my husband). I wasn't going to shop at all, but then I poked around online a bit and grabbed the Toys R Us Groupon - available for about 15 more hours as of me writing this post! - so I could get my kid a few extra little things (and I bought it with Groupon credit I'd earned so it was free!). I also bought a replacement pair of headphones for my iPod/phone thanks to a very rare Apple sale (and you know, for all of my coupony-savey ways, I forgot to click through eBates to save on them, though Apple only gives 1% cash back - other stores give 6% or more!) - I had both birthday money and some cash I'd earned from Swagbucks.

Then I thought, well, I've been hoarding the Amazon gift cards I've been earning from Swagbucks, so I'll check out the deals over there - and there was a bonus $5-off-$25 coupon that was floating around that was about to expire. So this is what I "bought" myself (it was also all free* - and I even scored a free month of Prime - and now I am, again, oh so tempted to just pay for a year of Prime...):
I buy the Best Food Writing collection every year.
I needed something to get me to the $25 threshold to use the coupon - and I've been drooling over this book for some time. I love Lynda Barry!
Apparently this was a super-score, as when I decided to buy it, it was only $7.99 - it's more now. I needed something to get me off my ass since I haven't been running at all lately. I know, I know....

So yes, I bought myself Hanukkah presents - thank you Swagbucks!

But Saturday was Small Business Saturday - and I'd won a $25 gift card from FedEx's big promotional drive! Plus, my little city was having all sorts of festivities - music, massages, free snacks, free gift wrapping, and welcome mats in front of most of our amazing local businesses. So after we poked around at the farmer's market and then stopped off for some free popcorn and goodie bags, I bought the kid her big Hanukkah present - a wooden-and-felt toy salad set, because she loves to cook and to play in her toy kitchen and because the upscale toy shop was having a big sale on everything. I also bought my husband a small gift of a gourmet rubber tea infuser. It's super cute and he's quit the coffee habit and only drinks tea, so he was really excited about this one. (Yeah, they were both with me. I still made sure everything was wrapped so that we'll have the fun of unwrapping on the first night of Hanukkah!) And I bought a glass oil spritzer for me and my husband to share as well - a little bit of extravagance for our kitchen.

And I think that just about does it. Hanukkah starts on December 8 and so it's coming up soon and then, whoosh, it will be over...

Every single link in this post (except the 2XL link!) is a referral link that will give me a kickback of some sort if you click through and purchase something. I really appreciate it!

*I do spend my time to earn the credits on sites like Swagbucks, but I do the tasks while I'm taking care of other things. I consider the earnings from these activities to be "free" money as opposed to the earnings from my freelance work.


  1. I wish I had the time, energy and talent to do all you to for the deals!

    1. Thank you! In all honesty, I wish I *didn't* have the time that I do have - for the next few months that will change, happily! - but when my workload is light, it's nice to be able to save a bit here and there and to be able to buy treats for the fam! :)