Shopping was a distinct part of my childhood, no matter the time of the year. Once a week, my mother, grandmother, my sister and I would head to the local shopping areas followed by a trip to the grocery store. My mother has worked in retail most of my life so she always did a lot of our Christmas shopping at her store after her shift was over, rather than at the times we were with her. As we got older, I was given a small bit of money to buy my sister something and vice versa. When I got to high school and had my own job, I was able to buy something for my mom and sister with my own money.
I am usually good about starting in October and controlling the spending and making it all manageable. It's hard with two children to not go overboard when we know that each of the four grandparents are going to do something as well. I have even ventured out on a few Black Fridays primarily looking for great toy bargains that I donated to Toys For Tots.
In recent years, my husband and I will make a list of a few items we would like and go our separate shopping ways. We also will jointly discuss and shop for gifts for our parents, which usually includes photos or those great photo calendars filled with pictures of our girls.
I like to be done early with shopping so I can get it wrapped and shipped. Alas, that just did not happen this year.