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November 20, 2008


D. Gouldin

Your narration reminded me vividly of a year about a decade ago when I followed Mr. Stanley's example and actually started shopping the day after Christmas for next year's gift. Inspired by family visits, I knew of gifts that would fit some individuals well immediately. Others I found later, several on vacation trips throughout the first half of the year.

As we travel for the holidays to be with family, I do place a size restriction on each item I purchase so that we have room to travel comfortably in our carefully selected "green" car. That year, I placed each gift carefully in the "gift closet" at my home, a very high top shelf to prevent my curious 5-year old from unwrapping any of them.

By May, every purchase was made, wrapped, and awaiting the gifting trips in December. But motherhood creates busy people, months pass quickly, and before I could believe it, Christmas arrived. As each family member unwrapped and ooh-ed and aah-ed over his or her gift, a strange feeling began to creep over me. Many of the gifts were not the ones I remembered selecting for this person or that.

Suddenly my harrowed motherly synapses snapped, the huge string of twinkling lights came on in my brain, and I started laughing uncontrollably! Once I regained my composure, I explained to those present that I had actually shopped for Christmas gifts twice--once in Mr. Stanley's most efficient and careful way, and once just before the holidays in my usual rush--having forgotten the earlier buying sessions due to the busy and hectic nature of life with children!

Of course, someone recounts this story every year at the holidays, and we all get a great laugh, at my expense, about my double shopping that year.

And what, you ask, happened to the gifts in the top of the closet? They became birthday gifts during the course of the year following my silly mistake of purchasing double!


Yes - we have been buying gifts that way for a long time now. The best time to buy gifts is all year long, as the opportunity arises. We stash them in what we call the "gift closet." Watching an episode of Six Feet Under, we were startled to hear Ruth Fisher refer to their gift closet! We didn't know it was a thing...
Anyway, Mr. Leveen is spot on - it's better to give than receive, and the anticipation of giving is there sometimes for months.

Fred Putnam


My wife and I rarely go "Christmas shopping," preferring to buy things throughout the year and store them until the holidays approach. We find that this frees us from the "deadline," "gotta get something for ..." syndrome, which makes it much easier to enjoy the holidays. It has also helped us to give gifts with more thought and care, and less impulse.

Good advice!




Steven, I always buy gifts early. I stash them away in various places. However because I sometimes forget who I've purchased gifts for, I wind up with more than enough. My older brother also purchases early. As he and his wife travel, they explore the back roads and stop at interesting places along the way. When they find something they particularly enjoy, and think someone else would enjoy it as well, they pay to have it shipped in time for Christmas. So not only do they have the joy of buying ahead of time, but they also have the joy of not standing in line at the post office to mail packages. Someday I hope to achieve that level of joy as well!


'Til your tale of Mr. Marcus, and the comments it brought, I didn't know I was in such good company: When an item brings to mind its recipient, virtually whispering his name when I see it, I buy it no matter the season, and put it away. Gifts thus chosen make, in my experience, happier marriages with recipients than those bought in haste, of necessity.

Liz Sanchez

Steve, I've done this for years! Especially the after-christmas bargains. My christmas cache is located under the stairs. Around November I start unloading and I have so much fun remembering what I bought and for whom.

Judith Mettinger

I too have followed Mr. Stanley's position. But alas, I have only one closet for the gifts. So every time I walk into my closet I have the pleasure of thinking about the people whose gifts are just waiting to be opened. Sometimes, however, a gift might go to a different person. This gives me pleasure all year!


Keeping an eye open for the right gift at the right price has been one of my favorite sports for years. How refreshing to read your comment and be reminded of the pleasures of early shopping. Sometimes I save a little by buying at the right time. Sometimes I happen across the perfect gift in an unexpected place or at an unexpected time.

I appreciate being reminded this has lessened some of the stress in my life. Now that you point it out -- yes! I do have longer to look forward to the gift recipient’s reaction. [Ordered the perfect gift for someone special from Levenger and I'm truly excited about giving it.]

My tip is to set a deadline for hoiday shopping. The day after Thanksgiving, I inventory who gets a gift and what I have stored away for them. Then I go online and finish shopping by filling in the blanks. All of it is done with just a few clicks. Okay, so I do a lot of clicking on that day. I figure the shipping is less expensive than driving my car around in quest of what's left on the shelves, and that's without factoring in the time I save.

The best part of this approach is: I'm done. If I choose to spend the time with friends and family -- I can. IF I want to go to a store to see the crowds and the frenzied shopping activities -- I can. And if I choose to stand in a line to buy something, it's because I want to -- not because I have to!


We've been doing early shopping like this for years. Our trick is to shop while on vacation. We always find great, unique gifts on each trip. It adds to the enjoyment of the vacation. Plus, when Christmas comes, we get to revisit our vacation as our loved ones open their gifts!


I like this idea...but I when I practice it, I end up with double or triple the gifts for most people! So I practice a modified version, keeping an eye for truly spectacular gifts that are just right, but resisting for those that are just so-so. If towards Christmas, I am short for someone, I can always go to the bookstore and find something (for them and me!). PS: Steve, thanks for the comment on the book review. It's now on my "to loan" bookshelf for my mother, who will pick it up at Thanksgiving.

Mike Bollinger

Hi Steve,

Great stories! Have been purchasing books for many years and am proud to count many of your offerings to my shelves as well. Before this year comes to a close I wanted to reorganize my library. Do you recommend some form of electronic/computer software that you have used successfully? Although I love writing (and of course some of my finest pens come from your supply as well), I don't think a paper card file is practical. Please help me sort through this pleasant problem. Thanks and the best of the coming New Year to you, your family and staff.


Diana Raabe

Yes! How can one avoid it upon spotting the "perfect" gift for someone? I do this with greeting cards as well. If I'm shopping for one specific card and see one that is perfect for someone else or for another occasion, I snap it up!

I'm usually only disappointed in what I didn't purchase, rather than experience any buyer's remorse.

Kelly Seltzer

I am glad to see I am not the only one who practices "early holiday shopping." This was a valuable lesson taught to me by my beloved grandmother. We'd buy presents and hide them in our closets just like Mr. Stanley. We would usually finish our shopping before Halloween. It is wonderful to just relax and enjoy the holidays without dealing with the 'crush' of the season. Since we are on the topic of gifts: Have you ever considered an online wish list for the Levenger website? I would love to publish my wishlist there!

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