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Thursday, November 17, 2011

What to Bring to Dinner

Thanksgiving is coming up.

As the most heavily-traveled holiday of the year, most of us will be partaking in the annual tradition of visiting extended family for dinner where we genuinely enjoy the company of some and pretend to genuinely enjoy the company of others, all while  making a mental list of the 8,000 other things we'd rather be doing.  Like having an apicoectomy.  

Honestly, I really do enjoy Thanksgiving.  The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is reputed to be the biggest drinking night of the year, followed by a gluttonous feast of turkey and that cranberry sauce that stays shaped like a can.  What a great holiday.

I've also no doubt that the drinking phenomenon is directly related to the extended relations attempting to mesh.  As with most situations in life, beer helps. 

What also helps is not showing up at a someone's door empty-handed, especially if this is the first time meeting them.

Homemade baked items are best, but if there's no time or one's simply not a baker, grab an item from the grocery store.  You can even grab it 5 minutes before showing up at the person's house and they'll never know.  Though, to be on the safe side, it's always a good idea to trash the receipt and threaten the kids to secrecy. 

Some other ideas include flowers or a bottle of wine.  If you have any unique situations you might like some help with, check out our latest gift ideas and we'll offer our insight for what to bring to stymie any chance of your extended relatives speaking ill of you once you leave.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Getting It Right

In determining what presents to pick out for our friends or family members, we often find ourselves trying to predict what items they might choose if they were to select presents for themselves.

Maybe they'll make it easy by dropping hints.  They may even make it a non-issue by explicitly saying what to get them.  Or maybe we've simply been paying attention for the past few weeks, trying to see if there's anything that has attracted their attention.

Even when we're told what to get, it's worth focusing on specifics.  What particularly attracts the recipient to this gift and not an alternative?  Does it have to be exact color? Brand?

For example, a child may want a video game system for Christmas, but what type of system can make a huge difference, say between a PS3 or a  Wii.  Maybe one loves John Grisham and his latest novel would make a great gift... but only if the recipient doesn't already own a copy of "The Litigators".

It's helpful to have an 'inside man' in situations like these, whenever possible.  For instance, if I'll pick out a present for my dad, I'll first ask my mother whether he already has an item, or what he might prefer instead.

If that's not possible, consider discretely prying for ideas extra-early.  If it's far enough away from the gift-giving date, there's a good chance any questions may be interpreted as mere conversation.  Better yet, if done far enough in advance, the recipient will likely even forget if we fail to be discrete and they pick up on our all-of-a-sudden unusual interest in, say, their preferences in engagement rings. ;)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Almost That Time of Year

Hard to believe it's time to start Christmas shopping.  Stores around here seem to inch the season earlier every time around.  This year, our grocery store had Christmas decorations up even before Halloween had passed.

Then again, maybe there's some method to their madness.  Not only am I done gift-shopping for my fiancée, but so is she, apparently.

I choose to hang on to my wishful hopes that she finished early to get me on a waiting list for the Ferrari 458 Spider.  In the (guaranteed) event this is not the case, I'm sure I'll be happy with whatever she's chosen, even if it can't go from 0-60 mph in under 3.4 seconds.

Retailers expect shoppers to have tight budgets this holiday season, so they're jockeying for as much attention they can get early-on.  Macy's, for instance, is opening the midnight after Thanksgiving.  Here's a list of when other major retailers are starting their Black Friday sales.

So while it's never too early to start Christmas shopping, there is at least one challenge it presents: Finding a good enough hiding spot to last so long undiscovered.

And if you're my fiancée and you're reading this, don't try to discover your gifts as you'll never find them.  But if you want a hint, you're welcome to explore the laundry room and, while there, do my laundry.