11 last-minute gift ideas for grandmothers and others to give and get

Time's ticking and if you still have a few stockings to fill or a few gifts to give, here are some simple gift ideas to consider. I tested out each — free for review — and give an honest thumbs-up to all.

A few are ideal for grandmas to give, a few more ideal for grandmas to get. Bonus: All can be ordered online, so no need to be out and about in the snow. (Note: There are NO affiliate links in this post.)

RING IT GAME ($14.99, BlueOrangeGames.com)

ring it game

Oh my goodness! My four-year-old grandson loves this game, even though it's designed for...

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Merry melee making

If you refrained from chasing shopping deals this morning, you—like I—surely missed out on merry making similar to these scenes from last year's Black Friday celebration:

If you didn't refrain and awoke early to elbow your way among the crowds, I tip my hat to you. You're a far braver shopper than I.

Curious minds want to know, though: Those of you who indulged in Black Friday shopping, did you encounter scenes like those in the video? Or did the Thanksgiving Day/Evening store openings put a dent in the Black Friday morning crowds?

Cheers—I think—to the official opening of the holiday shopping season!

Today's question:

What percentage of your holiday gift list have you completed, whether buying or making the gifts?

'Tis the season -- for spending!

This post has absolutely nothing to do with Bubby. But because he's so darn adorable -- and because he's the reason for Grandma's Briefs! -- I'm opening this post by sharing a photo of him with you. Seeing his happy face is a great way to start any day, any post, don't ya think?

And here's what else I'd like to share with you (the actual post of this post):

I did a little Christmas shopping over the weekend. And I mean a little ... online ... which put such a miniscule dent in the Christmas list that it's not really even worth mentioning. But hey, I got a start, and I guess that is worth mentioning. I've officially begun the work required of the season.

And work it is. And big business it is!

I regularly get press releases for use on my other website, the one that actually makes me a little money, and one of the recent goodies making its way to my inbox was the annual Holiday Season "Facts for Features" release from the U.S. Census Bureau, which shows what a huge business the holiday season is.

Because my brain is a tad mushy this morning -- yes, the Monday blahs hit even the unemployed! -- I'm passing along some of the tidbits from that Holiday Season release. It's pretty incredible how much money we fork out for family, friends and festivities. And with my minimal purchases over the weekend, I've officially become part of the statistics.

Take a look (do note that these are 2008 figures; it's a pretty safe bet that with the crappy economy, the numbers won't be as high for 2009):

$28.2 billion 

Retail sales by the nation's department stores (including leased departments) in December 2008. This represented a 40 percent jump from the previous month (when retail sales, many holiday-related, registered $20.2 billion). No other month-to-month increase in department store sales last year was as large. Other U.S. retailers with sizable jumps in sales between November and December 2008 were book stores (95 percent); clothing stores (32 percent); jewelry stores (125 percent); radio, TV and other electronics stores (38 percent); and sporting goods stores (62 percent).

14 percent

The proportion of total 2008 sales for department stores (including leased departments) in December. For jewelry stores, the percentage was 18 percent.

23 percent

The growth in inventories by our nation's department stores (excluding leased departments) from Aug. 31 to Nov. 30, 2008. Thanks to the holiday crowds, inventories plummeted by 25 percent in December.

$24 billion

Value of retail sales by electronic shopping and mail-order houses in December 2008 -- the highest total for any month last year.

19 billion

Number of cards, letters and packages the U.S. Postal Service expected to deliver between Thanksgiving and Christmas last year. The busiest delivery day was expected to be Dec. 17. On Dec. 15, the Postal Service expected to cancel the largest volume of mail of the season, with 960 million cards and letters processed.

$410 million

Sales by U.S. Christmas tree farmers in 2007.

$470.3 million

The value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and August 2009. China was the leading country of origin for such items. Similarly, China was the leading foreign source of artificial Christmas trees shipped to the United States ($28.6 million worth) during the same period.

And now, after thinking about all those dollars unnecessarily spent (because we do know what the reason for the season really is, right?), the Census Bureau leaves us with a little trivia that may come in handy when making small talk at those holiday gatherings:

Place names associated with the holiday season include North Pole, Alaska; Santa Claus, Ind.; Santa Claus, Ga.; Noel, Mo.; and -- if you know about reindeer -- the village of Rudolph, Wis. and Dasher, Ga. There is Snowflake, Ariz. and a dozen places named Holly, including Holly Springs, Miss., and Mount Holly, N.C.