Shoppers and Listers

December 23, 2008 at 10:15 pm | Posted in Holidays, Silly | 4 Comments

A coworker recently sent me an online magazine article about 4 types of Christmas gifters – name drawers, card givers, listers, and shoppers. I kind of loved it.

Here’s an exerpt:


In my experience there are four types of families: Name drawers, list makers, carders and shoppers. These groups do not play well together.

My husband comes from a clan of name drawers. In theory, I’m all for drawing names. Buying a single, more substantial gift seems easier than purchasing a bunch of smaller ones. But in practice, at least for me, it’s actually much harder.

My in-laws and their families are lovely people, but distance and duties mean we see them only once or twice a year. It’s hard to shop for someone if your most recent conversation with that person was about the weather.

Take, for example, Bill’s nephew — a guitar-playing, beach-dwelling, thirty-something sous chef with whom I exchange a few pleasantries about every third Christmas. (He doesn’t get home much.) What on Earth am I supposed to give such a person? A lifetime supply of guitar picks? An extremely nice whisk? Sunscreen? The women are easier — clothes can always be returned — but I’m never sure of size, and giving an XL to a M does not a festive Christmas make. What I wouldn’t give for a wish list.

I was born into a clan of list makers. Folks like us leave nothing to chance. No sooner has Thanksgiving ended than we’ve each jotted down our heart’s desires and sent them off to my mom. Then the phone calls begin.

“What should I get Jennifer?” I ask my mother. “Let’s see,” she says, no doubt scanning a clipboard. “Why don’t you do the gold earrings? Hoops, no wider than an inch-and-a-half. Not too shiny.” I hear my mother snap the lid back on her pen. “Good,” she says. “Your sister’s done.”

While I think lists make Christmas mistake-proof, my husband considers my family’s approach a bit too much like filling orders at the Amazon warehouse. (He’s got a point. Sometimes I can almost hear a voice yelling, “Hey Joe — shoot me a Paula Deen cookbook and that Simpsons calendar, and we can ship this box off.”) As far as he’s concerned, my family might as well exchange checks, go buy ourselves exactly what we want and meet for a nice lunch afterwards.

My older son, Bruno, takes after me. A confirmed list maker, he even provides Web site links to the exact items that will make him happy. “Remember,” he says each year. “No surprises.” I fear what will happen if Bruno falls in love with a shopper.

Shoppers buy into the romantic ideal of Christmas. They see themselves as Santa Claus. They spend December afternoons going store-to-store and Web-site-to-Web-site searching for the perfect gift. (Sometimes they get it right. Sometimes, like a tone-deaf singer, they’re about a half-step off.)

Shoppers think list makers are major buzz kills. We deprive shoppers of the chance to exercise their creativity. Shoppers are equally horrified by name drawers. Buy for just one person? You’ve got to be kidding. If Santa had that attitude where would we all be?

Nor do shoppers approve of carders — those folks who stick cash in a Hallmark or a gift card in a festive little folder and call it a day. (Carders, on the other hand, think all the rest of us are nuts.) Frankly, if you are a shopper, you really should stick with your own kind.

I’m a shopper. Jason’s a lister. Enter: two totally different approaches to Christmas.

I *LOVE* finding someone the *perfect* gift for Christmas. Something they’ll be surprised by, or something they will find really useful. I get just as excited – or, probably, even more excited – about giving out these sorts of gifts as I do receiving gifts of my own. I dislike buying gift cards, but would rather guess at what someone might want (and give the gift receipt in case they don’t like it).

Jason, on the other hand, not so much.  Gift cards = great! to this one.  Which is fine, but I’m not quite used to the buy-everyones-Christmas-gifts-in-30-min approach.  We finished his shopping today, and after only one short trip to Target, I found myself a little lost – like, wait!  this is really everything?  Whoa. So, I guess this approach comes in handy when one waits until the last minute to buy Christmas presents.

So what about you?  What’s your shopping strategy?  Start months in advance?  Or wait until the last minute?  I am loving our discussion of holiday traditions and strategies…



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  1. I’m a shopper, so sorry you listers, don’t go counting your presents until they’re unwrapped!

  2. This one I just have to answer. It is 6Am and I guess because I have a thousand things to do, I am wide awake. So what to do that won’t make noise and wake GraGG? Look at J@J’s blog. You inherited a wonderful trait (I think). I’ve already started shopping for next year! I take lists but that is only for when my mind is not very creative. Just wait till you see what I picked out for you this year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just out of curiosity, how do you wrap a gift card?

  3. You can’t wrap a gift card! (or maybe you can if you use very little paper?) That’s why I think they’re not as fun to give…

  4. T-4 hours and I still have 75% of my gifts to buy… power shop with focus!

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