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My name is Samantha Walters and I am what you would consider a “millennial executive” over here at Colocation America. Every Monday (get it, get it, Samantha on Mondays – the S.O.M column) I will write a little something on whatever is on my mind from business practices to current events and everything else in between.
This week’s topic – holiday shopping!
Every year around this time, there seems to be a little sparkle in everyone’s eyes. Everyone is a bit more jolly and easy going.
If you are anything like me, this time of year means gift shopping and festive lights. You get to go to “fake Christmas” (that pre-Christmas get together with your BFFs) and maybe, finally this year, you will even take that trip down to the ice skating rink in Santa Monica (don’t worry, it’s only 20 minutes away from anywhere you are). It is the time of magical elves and corny, romantic Christmas movies.
In Los Angeles, it is also the time of overcrowded malls and road rage. No, really, ask anyone you know—people are crazy this time of year in LA. Good luck finding a parking spot at the mall or finding your sister’s size at her favorite store. This time of year in LA means headaches and a lot of wind (sorry, I looked out my window and just thought “dang, that is a lot of wind”).
Once again, this year was/is no different. As with every year, I try to solve the age old problem: how do you get your family the best possible gifts without getting annoyed with the process of actually getting your family gifts?
No matter where you call home, here is a list of the top 5 tips when you are too lazy (or busy, yeah, tell everyone you are too busy) to deal with the hassle that is holiday shopping:
Holiday Shopping Trick 1: A Little Thing Called the Web
If I don’t say this one, someone will call me out on it so here it is – go do your shopping online. Better yet, convince your family to do the shopping for you. In other words, your family can create an online wish list at your favorite online retail stores. Once you receive it, all you have to do is press “buy” and bam shopping is over.
But let’s be real, it’s no fun if everyone knows their gift. I know we want to appease everyone but isn’t half the fun seeing someone’s surprised face? To that, I give you two options:
- Have each member of your family pick out numerous items (at least this way you have last say)
- Pick the gift out yourself.
Ok, I know option 2 will require a little more from you but it’s fun. Enough said.
Holiday Shopping Trick 2: Do You Want Fries with That?
A trick I have used many, many times before is the old “I will take you out for dinner.” Here is the thing with family—they want to spend more time with you. One of the greatest gifts you can give your family is more time with you so why not give it as an actual gift.
There are three ways you can give this gift:
- Go to your favorite restaurant and buy a gift card now (but make sure in your card that you tell them it has to be used with you)
- Create a gift certificate that says “dinner with me at your favorite restaurant” (this way, you do not have to even buy it now—talk about budgeting)
- Make your own dinner (give them a certificate or buy them all the ingredients needed).
No matter what you give it, it’s a perfect gift for parents and/or grandparents who complain about not seeing you.
Holiday Shopping Trick 3: “Hello, It’s Your Personal IT Support Hotline, How Can I Help You?”
Last year I made a mistake by giving, what I thought was, a joke gift. A little backstory: My Mom used to run a huge nonprofit with its own IT department. When she decided to pursue her own consulting business she lost that IT department. So being the resourceful individual she is, my Mom found a perfect replacement: me. Yep, I became her IT department meant to troubleshoot and fix every problem.
After doing the job for 3 years, I finally had a thought—what if I was to give her 24/7 IT Support as a gift for Christmas? Thinking I was being funny, I created an invoice, priced it out, and then heavily discounted it to the point it was completely free. Of course, the “company” invoicing was me and I was going to be the one to carry out all the tasks.
Fast forward to the last gift of the season, my Mom opens an envelope to discover her “gift” and, boy, was she happy. Actually, she continues to be happy because she is not afraid to call her personal IT Support Hotline with every issue.
To sum it up, this is a great gift to give to that pestering family member who calls nonstop about technical issues (most of the problems will be Googled, trust) and all you have to do is:
- Create an invoice with “24/7 support,” pricing, and discounts
- Be prepared for them to really use it.
For those of you who own tech support companies or run a tech department, this gift is perfect as long as you can convince your team to do it. Just beware, this may take more time then you thought.
Holiday Shopping Trick 4: And the Prize Goes to…
Depending on your industry, this time of year also means a lot of conferences. For some reason, it appears that people think it’s a good idea to have a conference at the end of the year when there is, of course, nothing else going on, right? Anyways, if you are like me, you have a few conferences around the holiday season.
Think about the last conference you were at, were they giving away any prizes for attending or going to a specific booth? If so, you may have noticed how amazing some of these gifts are. I mean, there are tablets, phones, and droids, among other cool gifts. Now what if you were to win the cool prize? Here is a thought—give it to someone as a gift! You will be the coolest aunt on the playground for giving your nephew the newest, greatest tablet (and you didn’t even have to pay for it!). Just be careful and don’t get to too excited, call up your family and tell them you won something, and then give them that same gift. It is one thing to be cheap and it’s another to get caught being cheap, if you feel me.
Holiday Shopping Trick 5: A Personal Shopper? Yes, Please!
Ok, ok, ok, yes I am from LA and we do things differently out here. For one thing, we will order anything if it can be delivered. Secondly, we will pay anything to free up our time. So this holiday season employ your very own personal shopper! And by personal shopper, I mean a helpful family member (preferable a sibling) who will buy gifts for you or on your behalf.
Hey, before you judge me, hear me out – family members make great sound boards for gift buying. Considering they come from the same family (or at least half of yours), they make the perfect person to consult with when it comes to gifts.
I am sure you have experienced the midday phone call from some family member asking if so and so would like the latest gold star sticker. Next time you get one of those calls and it’s a gift you actually think someone would like, just ask the person to pick you one up too. Or, better yet, offer to split the cost with person if they put your name on the gift. This way, it’s good for your budget and your time. Worst, comes to worst, you still got a great idea for a gift.
And that is all she wrote… enjoy the holidays and next year, think ahead for gifts or just use this list and get the gifts your family wants without the pain of actually shopping.