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Christmas shopping strategies
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It's the middle of November, Black Friday is looming, and I don't have a Christmas list.

My older daughter usually gives me a list for her family by the first of October. Her list always contains the name of what is to be bought for each of her children, her and her husband. She includes the place to purchase the item, the size or color, the catalog number, the price, the website and any other pertinent information. She is a CPA and terribly organized.

But she has given me nothing this year. I asked her about a list. She said she didn't know. Maybe I could take her children shopping. They are getting too old for toys and want clothes or electronic devices that I am absolutely lost shopping for. I took my oldest granddaughter shopping for her birthday. She has grown into ladies shoes and wanted a pair of boots.

Last year I had to purchase rubbery covers for said electronic devices and was absolutely amazed at the cost of those electronic clothes.

I'm used to waiting to the last minute to purchase presents for the children of my younger daughter. In fact, she usually purchases everything, and then I contribute some money to the cause and take home something to wrap.
My husband told me what he wanted and I have purchased it - a new pair of shoes. You may think a pair of shoes is not much of a Christmas present, but my husband wears a size that is very hard to find. In fact, Zappos only had eight types of shoes in his size. So just finding him a pair he likes is a major undertaking.
Nieces and nephews usually get money. So I really just need a list for children and grandchildren.

And something for my sister. She has bought my gift, a copy of Ken Follett's "Winter of the World," a sequel to "Fall of Giants," which she gave me for Christmas another year. My sister has my gift giving down pat. She picks out a book she wants to read, calls me and tells me she has bought it for me for Christmas and tells me I should not read it. Then she gets to read it in peace and quiet before she gives it to me for Christmas. When I ask her what she wants for Christmas, all she says is I don't know or I'll think about it.

I told her I was going to find a book I wanted to read and buy it for her. But she said wait. She would think of something.

My circle of friends has been in the habit of exchanging gifts. But last year, we decided not to. We are of the age that we would like to divest ourselves of stuff (translate that to what we consider clutter and junk). We are not in the market for acquiring more stuff. Plus, if we really want something, we just buy it.

So we decided we would all meet and just have a nice meal somewhere, Dutch treat, as our Christmas celebration.

My sister's circle of friends has done us one better. They meet every Friday night for dinner, and if someone's birthday has occurred that week, everyone purchases the birthday girl five lottery tickets. The caveat is if anyone wins really big, she has to take everyone on a fancy trip. Nobody has taken them for a big trip yet.
They also forgo Christmas presents. Instead, they get the name of a needy child from a community service organization and purchase presents for the child. Each friend is responsible for a certain area from clothes to toiletries, toys to books.

Last year, they had an 11-year-old boy and bought him a bike along with other things. My sister did say that they did not put the bike together. That feat was beyond their powers.

I think my sister's friends are onto a good thing. If you and your friends find yourselves in the same rut of buying presents for each other, I suggest you adopt a child for Christmas. I bet you'll find buying something for the child more fun than trying to find something for a friend who has everything he or she wants.

Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be reached at