Monday, November 15, 2010

Holiday shopping, oh joy

Yesterday was a bit of an overcast, chilly day here, and my mom called to see if I'd like to do a bit of holiday shopping. I'm always game for such an activity, so I quickly agreed. Hank and Mike were secured watching Sunday afternoon football, and off we went, Target and Toys R Us bound.

Well. We arrive in Target's parking lot to see that perhaps they are giving away free bars of gold, if the chaos therein was any indication. We managed to find a parking spot only in the very back, and struggled through the wind and rain all the way to the front door, past many dour looking souls trying to find a spot closer to the doors. Whereupon, before we even tick a single item off our list, my mom announces that she's hungry. This turned out to be a very fortuitous decision, given that what occurred thereafter required us to have a full artillery of strength. We split a personal sized pizza and some lemonade at the cafe, and set off.

We were having a difficult time finding many of the items that we were looking for, and that did not get any better as we approached the toy department. I was looking for 2 Fisher Price items: the Trio Batcave, and the Imaginext castle/fortress. Both were on sale at excellent prices. Unfortunately, both seemed to have been taken with the swarm of locusts that had very obviously gnarled its way through the toy department prior to our arrival. We struck out with every single toy that we originally had our eye on. I had a gift card to use, and really wanted to apply it toward a Christmas purchase, so I ended up getting Hank a V Tech VReader, which is an adorable new eBook reader for kids. It was marked down $5, so I snagged a blue one. But we left Target feeling a bit deflated.

Our arrival at Toys R Us miraculously showed a much calmer parking lot, much to our surprise. There, also armed with a gift card, I picked up both of the toys I wanted for Hank (a remote-control Buzz Lightyear marked down $20, and some books marked down $5 for his new VReader). We spent a lot of time analyzing gifts for my nephews, and by time we were done, I was falling down exhausted. This was before we glimpsed the checkout lines.

There were about 5 open, which is much better than usual, but yet every one was completely stopped up. Each person currently being waited on had some sort of complicated coupon or otherwise involved inquiry about the price of something they were purchasing. 20 minutes later, we were finally able to check out and head to my mom's car, barely able to walk.

And this was a pre-Thanksgiving Sunday. Last year, we lost our minds and went to Toys R Us on Black Friday, and let me tell you, I learned a thing or two. Here is my list of rules for Black Friday shopping:

(1) Always bring a partner in crime. You will need them to:

(a) Guard the cart with your purses as you dart into an aisle completely clogged with desperate shoppers and their carts, which inevitably will be right in front of the item you want to look at. Or vice versa. And,

(b) Gossip with as you wait 30-60 minutes in the checkout line.

(2) Have coffee beforehand. Or perhaps whiskey.

(3) You may arrive to find that there are no carts. WAIT FOR ONE. Yes, you will feel like a stalker, but trust me, you NEED one. Do not try to navigate the madness with just your bare hands. You will be sorry.

(4) Mentally prepare yourself for the fact that people will be in your way every single moment until you arrive safely back in your house. You will also be in theirs. Once you accept this, you'll feel a lot calmer.

(5) Don't have your heart set on a single, specific item. That is reserved only for those crazy people that line up outside the store at 9 pm on Thanksgiving night. Unless you want to be stampeded by them, you're not gettin' that TV. Resolve this within yourself now. You'll still get some great deals on other gifts, and that will have to be good enough.

There you have it. Only 10 more days until Black Friday 2010. :)

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