It’s nearly Christmas, and my wallet is bleeding from being sucker-punched by retailers at every turn. So in the spirit of the season, here are a few of my stops on the way down the money rabbit hole.

1. Decorations. This applies to all seasons, really. Take Halloween, for instance. When I was growing up, we had one pumpkin on the front porch. Not a whole family of pumpkins, big ones and baby ones, orange ones and white ones, with a graveyard in the front yard to boot. One. Pumpkin. Nowadays around mid-October we go get “a pumpkin,” and $60 later the pumpkins need their own family sticker on my rear window. Next I suppose is an inflatable snowman family in the front yard.

2. Christmas Jammies. I never had pajamas dedicated to one holiday, and things seem to have turned out ok for me. Nevertheless, I’ve been dressing my kids in Christmas jammies long before the cute Holderness family video made them famous. Now I feel left out and want to be a matching Christmas jammie family too. Haven’t talked B into that one yet, but if I do, you better believe it will make an appearance here.

3. Elf on the Shelf. This friggin thing really needs no explanation. The only elf in my childhood home was a porcelain stocking hanger. Now every parent in America is essentially playing dolls before bed each night between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And the lady who dreamed up Elf on the Shelf is laughing all the way to the bank. The problem is that no family needs more than one elf, right? But we do need the story book and a stuffed elf that (gasp!) can be touched. Cha-ching!

4. Christmas China. I think I’ll make my own video about Christmas china. (Think “My Meat Goes On It” to the tune of Kool and the Gang’s Get Down on It. Look for that later.) I honestly thought when I got married that the fine china pattern I chose and on which my wedding guests spent a small fortune would be suitable for holidays. And geez, I need a larger cabinet to store it all, so I guess I’ll buy that too. And coordinating linens.

5. Starbucks. Where would we be without holiday-themed coffee at $4 a pop? Pumpkin Spice Lattes for fall straight on into Peppermint Mochas for Christmas. Yes, please. I’m not sure how we ever shopped without them.

6. Bath and Body Works. Don’t give Starbucks all the glory for the holiday-themed must-haves. Seasonal scents aren’t just for candles anymore. Get down to Bath and Body Works and get you some Twisted Peppermint lotion (don’t forget the shower gel), and your whole body can smell like Christmas too (don’t wait – it’s for a limited time).

7. Christmas Photo Cards. I remember when sending Christmas cards entailed going down to the Hallmark store, choosing one with a design you liked, signing your name, and dropping them in the mail. Now, we must book a photographer, subject the family to a color-coordinated photo shoot, wait for the edited digital image, plug it into a cute design by Shutterfly, Tiny Prints or whomever, then anxiously await the cards’ arrival in the mail just to then put them BACK in the mail. I did this exact routine my first four years as a parent. I needed a break, and I’m not done yet. No offense, but you see pictures of my kids on Facebook every week.

These are just observations, not a life lesson. Empty your wallet and make it rain, people. I’ll be here with my peppermint mocha and tree candle looking at china patterns and wondering where to put my elf. Merry Christmas.