Is it really possible that it’s the beginning of November and Chanukah is just a few short weeks away? While some people may be focusing on their Thanksgiving menu, which may now feature potato latkes instead of sweet potatoes and sufganiyot in place of pumpkin pie given the quirks of this year’s calendar, others are hard at work scaring up Chanukah presents for the whole clan way earlier than usual.
In the bad news department, if you are first thinking about Chanukah presents now, you are definitely behind schedule. Having grown up hearing my father utter the words “buy when you see, not when you need” over and over again, I am on the lookout for Chanukah and birthday gifts all year round and when I find those perfect items, I buy them – if the price is right, sometimes months in advance. It really is worth laying out money for gifts weeks before you need them because when you wake up one morning and realize that your mom’s birthday is in just two weeks and you can’t find anything appropriate, you will find yourself spending endless hours combing stores and websites in search of the right gift and may find yourself frustrated, empty handed or both. So when you find that coffee mug, scarf or necklace that screams “Mom!” make sure you grab it. Keep your loved ones in mind all year long when you hit those sale and clearance racks, enabling you to score great stuff at rock bottom prices, a surefire way to make both the recipient and your wallet smile. A word to the wise: make sure you remember where you stashed those gifts so that you don’t forget you have them or, worse yet, spend hours looking for them when you need them.
In the good news department, fear not: there are oodles of sales heading your way in the next few weeks and with Black Friday sales starting earlier and earlier every year there are plenty of bargains to be had right now. Know exactly what you want for that special someone? Google, google, google so you know how much you can expect to pay for that gift, then scour those flyers and advertisements that show up in your mail and inbox and see if the sale price is cheaper than the usual one. Don’t forget that you may need to add shipping and sales tax when shopping online!
Is it worth shopping on Black Friday? This year, given that the biggest shopping day of the year actually falls out on the second day of Chanukah, it depends on timing. If you need your gifts for the first night of Chanukah, then obviously hitting the stores at 5:00 a.m. on Friday morning isn’t going to work, but if you have some flexibility, you might want to consider shopping the Black Friday sales, as long as you don’t mind shopping in the pre-dawn hours with throngs of obsessed shoppers. Be prepared for the advertised items to be out of stock, lots of pushing, flaring tempers as people argue over the last of a particular item and very, very long lines. To be honest, you couldn’t pay me enough to walk into a store on Black Friday, but for some it is like the Superbowl of shopping and an event they wouldn’t miss for the world. Like shopping from the comfort of your own home? Start surfing. There are plenty of deals in cyberspace on Black Friday as well.
Take advantage of photo labs and sites to make some really unique gifts. These days it seems like there is nothing you can’t make into a photo gift: t-shirts, mugs, cell phone cases, ties, blankets, jigsaw puzzles, mouse pads, calendars, clocks, umbrellas – the sky’s the limit. Don’t overlook photo books, which allow you to preserve memorable moments for posterity and make great gifts. Check out Snapfish, Shutterfly and Artscow, all of which routinely offer sales on their product lines, as well as the photo departments at major stores including Target, Walmart, CVS and Walgreens, among others.
For a gift that keeps on giving, consider magazine and newspaper subscriptions (including The Jewish Press), which will hopefully be appreciated for months to come. Websites like Amazon.com, MagazineDealsNow.com and MagazineDiscountCenter.com all offer a variety of magazines at very attractive prices.