Christmas Shopping Advice

Dear Austin’s Acre,

Christmas is just around the corner and I am running out of time and ideas. In the past you have offered some advice on purchasing gifts for family and friends. To be honest, the advice was questionable at best. But I am desperate. Any ideas?


Too Lazy To Care.

Dear Lazy.

First, let me address your unfortunate name. I work at a law firm and I think someone there can help you change the moniker if you wish. You will never be able to get a job with a name like Lazy. Why not think about a name like Larry? It will have the same ring. If you want to keep your last names, I would suggest something snappy like Too Hard Working or Too Sexy. These will either get you a job or a date.

Now on to your concern about gifts: Yes, it is late in the season but several items remain on the shelves that are perfect for your loved ones. I think you will appreciate these simple shopping tips.

BULK SHOPPING: Shopping for extended family is always difficult. There are so many items to choose from and so many people to buy for. My family alone has 127 people. My wife’s family has 34 members. With something like 161 gifts to buy, a shopper needs a strategy. Here is a tip I learned a long time ago: I always go to the end of the isle when I’m in the store and buy two or more of everything. If I buy two Chuck Norris movies, I can give one to Anita’s Uncle Fred, and my 10-year-old nephew Gill. Each one thinks that I’ve spent hours looking for that perfect gift just for them, when in fact, I’ve spent 15 seconds picking out one crummy gift and checked two people off my list. This also works for air fresheners for Anita’s mother that we see all the time and my Sister-In-Law, Jillian from Texas that we see once a year.

DO NOT VISIT SPECIALTY STORES! You are interested in volume and speed. Multiple stores result in increased time and energy. Go to one store that sells everything. Do not leave until your list is complete. A good place to shop is the Dollar Store or Dollar General. They have everything: Backscratchers, laundry baskets, desk lights and dish soap. They have diaries and diapers, batteries and bubble gum, cans of soup and wood working clamps. There are music boxes and maxipads, CD’s and cat food, 2 liters and toothpicks. If you cannot find the perfect gift for the ones you love in this store then you are trying too hard.

With today’s technology, you can easily create and print new price stickers for the 161 items you just purchased. A gift that you purchased for $1.09 is now $10.99 and no one is the wiser. Take the necessary time to change the values on different presents. If every present is $10.99, someone might get suspicious. In addition, everyone knows that a quart of oil is about $4.00. Do not mark that up to $14.99. You will not fool anyone and those you do snooker will just think you are stupid for paying that much for oil.

There has never been a better time to take advantage of great gifts and the people you give them to. Gift cards are everywhere and available for everything. You can easily fill all your shopping needs by picking up cards for everything from dinner to doughnuts, groceries to gasoline, bail bonds or Bibles, pork loin and pickles. Often you can find these cards in a display at the same store. But buying 161 gift cards at $20 each will cost like…$100. That’s a lot and who has that kind of money? The beauty of gift cards it that you can put any dollar amount on them. I always budget $1.50 per card. Here is the trick…I spend $1.50 but I write $25 on the cardholder in the Amount section. This way, people get the warm feeling of receiving a $25 gift for something they really want and you get the warmth of spending as little as possible on something they will never get. Believe me, no one ever questions the value of the card. If they do raise a concern, it is usually months later after they’ve tried to spend it. At this point in time, you can mutter something under your breath about the small print, evaporating values, or how you knew the girl at the checkout counter was going to mess that up. Use phrases like, “Those crooks took my money!”, or “There needs to be Congressional oversight on this industry!”, or “I’m never getting my gift cards at THAT store again!” They will be convinced.


1. Chuck Norris movies do not work for everyone. I only used this as an example. However, everyone loves the Rambo movies and Rocky I, Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky V, Rocky VI. Skip Rockies IV and VII because they were just stupid.

2. Use caution when buying maxipads as Christmas gifts. If you give this gift at the wrong time or to the wrong person, you will never hear the end of it.

3. When increasing the value of a present, do not attempt to replicate bar codes. It is not possible and there are federal laws prohibiting this practice.

4. Along those same lines, do NOT try to change the store name to impress your family. You are allowed to bump up one level but never more than this. For example, if you bought the gift at Dollar General, you can upgrade to Walmart. If you bought the gift at Walmart, you can upgrade to Target. If you bought the gift at Target, you can change the name to Kohl’s. After that, you are on your own. I don’t shop anywhere else so I don’t know what comes after Kohl’s.

5. Do not purchase gift cards that allow the holder to call a toll-free number to check their balance. After the first or second year, family members get wise and will not leave the party until they’ve made the call. There isn’t any reason to ruin anyone’s Christmas cheer with the truth.

Well, Lazy, Lucky, Larry, LuLu, whatever…These pointers may just help you find that perfect gift for the masses. I wish you luck and a very merry Christmas.

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