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Nov. 23, 2022

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Neither?

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Neither?

If your days and weeks leading up to Christmas or any other gift-giving holiday are marked by stress over what gifts to give and where and how to shop for them, maybe a change in perspective will help. Let's take a few moments to reflect on the spirit of giving and the possible goals for selecting gifts.

If you love Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping, shop away, and pay no attention to my opinions. If you don't love them, read on...

Goal: Embrace the Spirit of Giving

Gift giving can, and arguably should, be a joyous event. Giving something to someone should bring the giver joy. If you know of something that somebody is longing for and you can give that gift, there is reason for rejoicing. If, however, you are wandering store aisles looking like you've been torn apart by hyenas while hoping something will jump out at you that might be the right fit for the person you are required to exchange a gift with, that is the opposite of a reason for rejoicing. Last Minute Shopping is as tedious as the sentence directly before this one; it is a recipe for joyless giving.

"To do more for the world than the world does for you—that is success." -Henry Ford " 

If you are not a natural at it, you can get into the spirit of giving by putting yourself in the right mindset. Each morning or evening through the year, start or end your day with a small notebook wherein you have a list of things you know about people in your circle. What do they like? What is their favorite color? Have they shown interest in something? As you get to know more about the people by really thinking about their likes and dislikes, you will be prepared when you shop.

Don't give gifts just because it is expected during gift-giving occasions. Give gifts because you can't help yourself. Give because you know that your gift will bring delight to the recipient. Put your love into the gift-giving process. When you feel excitement about the gift you are giving because you know it will cause glee, you will know you are on the right track.

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” –Charles Dickens

Goal: Personalized and Thoughtful

Giving a personalized and thoughtful gift is the optimal goal. It is difficult to look for and choose personal and thoughtful gifts when slugging it out in the aisles on a Black Friday shopping spree. Cyber Monday can be a much calmer experience, but you are still scanning the Internet frantically trying to find the deals and then make those items fit the people to whom you are giving gifts. Hitting refresh on your browser every 20 seconds because the level of sale traffic crashed the website does not put you on a path of joyful giving.

Is that Fitbit, Apple Watch, KitchenAid Mixer, Samsung television, Roku, Firestick, Nintendo Switch, etc., a personalized and thoughtful gift? Is it the perfect thing for that person? I get it, those deals only come around once a year for certain items. So, buy them when they are on deep discount sale. But don’t choose the gift based on the deal you can get while forcing that item to fit a recipient. Personalized and thoughtful means that you actually considered what a person would love, and you chose based on that criteria.

Goal: Support Small Business

Shop handmade and small business first. One of my favorite pastimes of the holiday season is going to holiday bazaars and viewing all the handmade creations. When you shop small and handmade, you are supporting a small business and helping an artisan continue to create.

My favorite way to give gifts is to let them naturally find me. When I am out and about throughout the year, I keep the people on my list in mind so I can pick up those gifts when I see items that would be just right for those people. Possible unpopular opinion: The gift doesn't have to be expensive, and doesn't even have to be new in certain circumstances. Sometimes, the perfect gift is an antique you found at an estate sale or a book from a used book stall. Sometimes, the perfect gift is a collector's item you found at a resale shop. When you buy from estate sales or other small sellers’ shops, you are supporting small business. When you shop from a charity shop, you are helping them gather dollars that they use to help people in need. Bonus if you buy a gift for someone in this way that is also helping others receive necessities.

Goal: Spread Merriness and Love

At the end of the day, love is all that matters. Material goods come and go. The popularity of certain material goods comes and goes. The electronic item has a limited lifespan. It will break, go out of style, become obsolete. Will the recipient’s memory of the gift outlive the item itself? Consider whether Black Friday and Cyber Monday embody the spirit of giving or if they simply further a harried consumer quest for gathering items in a knee-jerk, Pavlovian answer to the bell. While others are braving the crowds on Friday, I will be sitting quietly in a warm nook with my hot cocoa and knitting a gift.

The ultimate goal of gift giving is to spread merriness and love. Giving a gift that pours out your love upon a person and allows them to feel merry, joyful, elated, and glad is the ultimate giving of a gift. I don’t think you find much of that at Black Friday, or even Cyber Monday. Keep it thoughtful, keep it personal, and send forth your love into this oft-bleak world.