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Is Successful Holiday Shopping An Art Or Science? How We Conduct Our Holiday Shopping Campaigns

Is successful holiday shopping an art or a science? 

Everyone seems to have their own system for completing their gift shopping on time and with just the right mix of requested necessities and unexpected happy surprises for recipients. For some that’s achieved through careful planning, procedures, and checklists. For others, the “system” is no real system at all. Here are some of the ways our Sunmarkers conduct their own holiday shopping campaigns. 

Kathryn Manilenko, Senior Member Service Representative, Glenville: “The first thing I do is make a list of all the people I am shopping for. I then establish a budget of sorts. I try and over estimate. That way I’m not that surprised when I go overboard. After I make my lists, I try and see which locations have the best deals, or if I can get a better deal and free shipping online. I try not to go out on Black Friday. In the end I usually end up buying a few extra things at the last minute so that they have a little something extra to open.”

Kayleigh Colvin, Member Service Representative, Clifton Park: “I like to do my shopping ahead, so I’m not in stores at the last minute. My family is small, so I don't have to go to crazy. When I’m shopping for clothes for someone, I get them a different color then just black or grey because people tend to buy themselves a basic color, so I like to get them something fun that they wouldn't get for themselves. I like to make a list of some things that person really wants or would like (one big item). I do also like to get an "experience/ date" with that person too, to plan a special day with them like buying a theatre ticket to see a show at Proctor’s or something along those lines. They are my favorite gifts to give and they mean the most to me because I have a plan to spend a day with that person and not just only on Christmas. Gifts are not a huge part of my Christmas. We like to have a sit-down dinner together and spend time with each other. Happy Holidays from my family to yours!”

Tim Zabriskie, Member Relationship Advisor, Saratoga: “Typically, when buying bigger gifts such as electronics, I make sure I do my due diligence by reading Consumer Reports. The reviews always help with buying the right product that falls within a certain price range, because nothing is worse than buying a $700 TV that breaks after two years and repeating the same process.”

Sarah Mulligan, Member Relationship Advisor, Colonie: “Before Thanksgiving my boyfriend and I sit down and make a list of what we are getting people. Usually we only look for higher ticket items at Black Friday. After Black Friday we compare prices across different stores and websites, snagging items as we see sales. We try to get all our shopping done and delivered by December 20th, so we have time to relax and wrap gifts.”

Brittney Campbell, HRIS and Benefits Manager, Latham: “I like to give experiences for the kids in the family--nieces and nephew--instead of traditional gifts so they usually get gift cards to a trampoline park or movies and I usually give them something to open in relation to that (Candy/Snacks, trampoline socks, etc.). For my kids I usually have a few things in mind and keep an eye online for the best price. I leave shopping carts full on most every site and don't check out because they usually trigger emails with coupons to get you to purchase them.  Walmart/Target and Amazon online are the most used sites for me. For grandparents it’s usually something sentimental, a photo gift or something similar, so that usually takes a bit of planning.”

Ralph Gazzillo, Manager, Rotterdam-Five Corners: “I try to pick up on references my kids make throughout the year. I feel the best gifts are those that interest them, but that they wouldn't always get for themselves.”

Nia-Aliyyah Lewis, Member Relationship Advisor, Rotterdam: “For Christmas, around this time of November, I tend to make lists to make my job a little easier! I start with my biggest items and work my way down. I also tend to get my daughter’s gifts out of the way before I venture into extended family shopping. Priorities! But generally speaking, I procrastinate until the week of Christmas to finalize all of my shopping, even up until Christmas Eve, picking up last minute stocking stuffers for my daughter! What she doesn't know won't hurt her, and the less amount of time I must hide them from her, the better!”

Christina Coons, Accountant, Latham: “I make a list of ideas in my phone so that I always have it with me. I usually start the list in the Fall, or if I have an amazing idea earlier in the year it will go on my list. I break the list down by family member so I can easily refer to it when it comes time to shop. Part of my family does a Secret Santa with family so we all only buy one gift for only one person, which can really be cost effective. We set a dollar limit too. We use Google Docs to give ideas for each other so we can hopefully find something they are looking for or need or will love. I don't use amazon, but I use the Flipp app to search the flyers and with a click of the picture it adds it to my shopping list within the app. I typically do some in store and some cyber shopping based on deals and convenience of delivery. It seems like there are always different sales if you are online or in the store.”

Kathleen DeMarco, Member Relations Concierge, Broadway (Schenectady): “I’m a single mom and I have already started. I use layaway and make payments every paycheck and I try to do one big gift . . . Santa gave “Frozen” tickets this year, and a bus trip to New York to look at the decorations. My daughter is six and is pretty easy. She is almost done. There’s less stress to get it done at the last minute. Merry Christmas . . . Ho Ho Ho!”