As soon as the final piece of pumpkin pie is served for the night, frost instantly fills the air, pale lights outline the silhouettes of houses, menorahs appear in windows and ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ bops out of car radios, all signaling the start to the holiday season. Spirited students, their bellies still swollen and popping from the previous holiday’s feasts, begin the countless hours that will be spent on holiday preparations. Whether it is the endless wait in line to buy gifts with the finest deals, on the most popular Friday of the year for shopping, or gathering recipes for baking holiday cookie masterpieces, students prove their dedication to the holidays by ensuring that they give meaningful gifts.
Junior Abby Willson said that she woke up early to guarantee that she got the best discounts for her first time Black Friday shopping. Willson and juniors Alex Parisi, Lian Call, and senior Zach Moorhead went to the Westfield mall in San Francisco to buy gifts for the holidays.
“I woke up at 6:00 a.m., I was ready to leave the house at 7:00 a.m., and then we were on the road by 7:15 in the morning,” Willson said.
Senior Yuka Matsuno spent hours preparing for the holidays as well. As of Nov. 29, Matsuno said that she had already begun baking her famous holiday cookies, which she makes each year for her family, friends and neighbors.
“I have to make [the treats] and then freeze them or else I don’t have enough time,” Matsuno said.
For the treats that Matsuno makes, she said that she likes to change them each year. Some of Matsuno’s favorites include molasses cookies, seven layer bars, shortbread cookies, sugar cookies, river bars, caramel corn and candied nuts.
Junior Kay Sibal also creates gifts each year for her close friends, family or for secret santas. Sibal has made gifts ranging from shrinky-dinks, friendship bracelets, calendars and personal t-shirts, to gifts she made by knitting or from photos.
When Sibal gives out her gifts, she said that her friends always express shock and huge appreciation.
“My favorite [reaction] is when they open whatever I made and they just start laughing, because usually I make the customizable things to be really stupid and hilarious,” Sibal said.
Senior Olivia Creighton, who has been receiving holiday treats from Matsuno since elementary school, said that she always looks forward to when Matsuno comes to her house with treats.
“Two years ago she dressed up as an elf to deliver all of [the cookies],” Creighton said. “It was so cute.”
Matsuno said that the people who she gives her treats to, including Creighton, always express excitement and gratitude when they receive them.
“[My friends, family and neighbors] always expect them now, not in an entitled way, but it’s a tradition,” Matsuno said.
For a different holiday tradition, many families spend the day after Thanksgiving shopping for presents. This year, according to the National Retail Federation, 151 million people shopped online or in-person on Black Friday and the weekend after Thanksgiving.
Moorhead said that for his first Black Friday experience, the mall was less crowded than he expected
“We weren’t running around anyone and I didn’t get hurt, like I thought I might, but it was fun, really fun,” Moorhead said.
For Willson’s first Black Friday outing, she said that she enjoyed the festive way that she and her friends started their holiday season. Willson said that she scored deals on clothes for herself and bought discounted presents for the gift exchanges that she is a part of.
“I would give it a thumbs up because my experience was crazy, but not too crazy,” Willson said. “It is a great opportunity to get a discount or get a jump on your holiday shopping.”
Willson said that she thinks some people become too involved with Black Friday, and that is when their experience can go wrong. During her time at the Westfield, she said that she saw people fighting over tables in the food court.
“I think people might take it a little too seriously,” Willson said. “When it starts getting dangerous, like pushing and shoving, that’s not worth it.”
Whether it be braving the sea of intense shoppers on Black Friday, or personally making individual presents, students have different opinions on the best ways to give holiday gifts.
Sibal said that she prefers to make and receive homemade presents, over ones that are bought from a store.
“I think a lot of people think that homemade gifts are lame, which they can be, but I think that’s why they are so great,” Sibal said. “They are lame, but in a really meaningful way, because it takes so much more work to make something lame, than to buy something cool.”
Similar to Sibal, Willson also believes that homemade gifts are a great choice for the holidays, however she also said that store bought gifts for a person she knows well can be just as specifical and thoughtful.
“I think that people think that store bought gifts are impersonal, but I think that you can make them personal,” Willson said.