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Christmas gifts online

By Mark Winter
Info Guru, Catalogs.com

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Are you making your list and checking it twice - not to see who's naughty or nice, but to see whom you've forgotten?
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Solve your shopping dilemma with Christmas gifts online

The following excerpt from a Psychology Today 1998 article is as appropriate today as it was eight years ago! "Gift purchasing and giving at Christmas time is fraught with fear, emotion and stress. The 'right' or 'wrong' gift can influence the timbre of family and other interpersonal relationships. Expectation again plays a major role and disappointment often results."

If you're like most people, chances are you resent the relentless commercialism of the holidays, the nagging feeling that you must identify and purchase the right Christmas gifts for each person on your list, the endless strategizing, shopping, wrapping and exchanging Christmas gifts.

That same article goes further, "And then the unwrapping, when you cringe in dread, waiting to see if your spurt of spending paid off: Will they like it? Are they just pretending? Why can't I tell? Then it's your turn to take center stage. You smile bravely as your unwrapping reveals ... ahh ... a sweater in a putrid shade of green ("Oh, it's perfect! It will go with my favorite skirt") or ... hmm ... the latest power drill, though you have trouble even screwing in a light bulb ("It's great. Now I can put up those shelves in my den"). Such playacting, such stress, such exhaustion. "

Not to panic! There are ways to avoid all the pitfalls associated with giving and getting Christmas gifts – particularly in your family. Some suggestions are:

* Set limits. Cap the number of gifts one person can give to another or the amount of money that can be spent per present. * Give gifts only to the children in the family. And the list of gifts for children is virtually endless. Educational toys, arts and crafts kits, books. You name it and you can find it online. * Another good idea is to pick family names out of a hat: each member buys a gift only for the person on the slip. * Prepare a list of of Christmas gifts indicating what each family member wants, along with their sizes. Pool money to purchase one big gift for each person. A new computer for a high school student would be nice! So would a new stereo, or a digital camera for Mom or Dad (depending on who's the photographer in the family).

* Shop early. Browse the Internet for Christmas gifts now. There are so many. Shop the various gift catalogs that are online. You'll find everything for everyone. And, you can generally find a lot of items with discounted pricing.

Above all,use your imagination. Arrange for theater tickets, a special day's outing (maybe a visit to a spa)or perhaps a weekend trip. Consider paying for a membership in one of the various book clubs. You can do all that online. Take some of the pressure of yourself and everybody else!

With today's frenetic pace, high gasoline prices and vast array of products available, it just makes sense to do your shopping online. Women's and men's clothing and accessories, decorative objects of art for the home, fancy packages of steak and other incredible edibles, even cigars—all at the click of a mouse. So get in the holiday spirit now, so you can truly enjoy all the festivities and fun when that magical day does arrive!

A little historical information to put things in perspective: Common lore has it that lavish gift giving has been a seasonal tradition ever since the Magi crossed the sand to celebrate a certain birth in a manger with offerings of gold, frank-incense and myrrh.

Not so. Gift giving is a relatively modern practice: it was grafted onto Christmas only in the late 19th century, when the growth of American industry began to pump excess goods into the market. Until then, the holiday was more of a holy day. Most of what Christmas spending there was went towards food and drink, And whatever Christmas gifts that were exchanged were largely homemade and centered on necessities rather than luxuries. My, how times have changed!

In 1874, Macy's New York department store created a fantastic holiday season window featuring 10,000 dollars worth of imported manufactured dolls. With that enticing display, mass produced, store-bought gifts were suddenly catapulted into fashion.

Still, many Americans had difficulty at first accepting the idea of giving - as personal, or sacred, gifts - items which were manufactured for and sold in impersonal, or profane, stores. To help soothe guilty consciences, department stores started offering special Christmas gifts - rather than ordinary stock - for holiday purchase.

As a further sop to nervous souls, merchants also came up with the ultimate Christmas cover-up. To hide the manufactured goods, they layered them over with a new notion: decorative wrapping paper. Today, one of the unwritten rules of the holidays is that Christmas gifts must be swaddled in fancy paper before they can be exchanged. Do you ever yearn for the "olden days"?

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

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