The holiday catalogs are here.

Thanksgiving isn’t for weeks yet, but holiday shopping guides are filling our mailboxes.

And I, for one, like it. While I prefer to shop locally, I find flipping through the pages of a colorful, attractive catalog is a fun way to relax after a long day.

Some of us may remember the excitement we felt as kids when the Sears Christmas catalog arrived in the mail. For youngsters unfamiliar with this concept, imagine if every Amazon listing was printed on paper and arrived in a bundle on your front doorstep only one day a year. (You might also use the thick paper printout as a booster seat for sitting at grandma’s dining room table.)

Living in Pontiac, I knew the complete toy inventory of every store in town, but the Sears catalog was filled with photos of playthings I had never laid eyes on before. It was uncharted Barbie doll territory.

I would stretch out on the living room floor with the catalog and a pen, and spend hours circling all the items I hoped Santa would bring.

I don’t lie on the floor much these days, but I still scan catalog pages for unusual items. Here are a few that caught my eye from Uncommon Goods:

• Adult award ribbons which honor “real achievements” for adults such as “Best at Saying What We’re All Thinking” and “I Put On Pants Today!”

• A smart phone sanitizer. Think of all those germs going from your hands straight to your mouth and nose via your phone’s touch screen. Ew, ick. Now you can put your phone in a cleaner which uses UV light to zap germs.

• Toaster grilled cheese bags. Life will now be complete with pouches which hold a cheese sandwich inside your toaster.

• A doughnut warming mug. The mug’s design features a recessed lid so you can sit the doughnut on the lid and sip coffee, too. The steam from the coffee warms the doughnut. Brilliant.

Wouldn’t Christmas morning be better if you found these gifts under the tree? And to think my husband dreads bringing in the mail.

He sighs as the stack of gift guides grows, particularly when it includes the Byers Choice Caroler Chronicle.

Byers Choice Carolers are handmade figurines, usually 13 inches in height, whose little mouths are shaped as if they are singing. Most are associated with Christmas, from Santa and Mrs. Claus to characters from the Nutcracker ballet. The carolers are made of wire, plaster and clay; hand painted and dressed in detailed costumes.

Collectors (one of whom may happen to be me) have a tendency to go ga-ga over the figurines and display them in every corner of their houses at Christmas. Soon it isn’t just a single Scrooge figurine on the mantel, but also Mr. and Mrs. Cratchit, Tiny Tim, all the Christmas spirits, the ghost of Marley and even the goose from Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Before you know it, a caroler army has taken over the living room and you’ve moved the couch to the garage until January.

I swore off buying additional carolers after storage reached a critical point. I was seriously considering repurposing the kitchen cabinets to house carolers and throwing away our everyday dishes. As luck would have it, the carolers were too tall for the shelves and the cereal bowls were spared.

It’s no surprise my husband holds the caroler catalog hostage until he extracts a promise from me I will not add to the collection.

“We need silverware more than a caroler selling hot chestnuts. And don’t try to move the toaster to make space for Santa’s elves.”

Oh, OK. Speaking of the toaster, have you seen these grilled cheese pouches?

Contact Susan Hazlett at or write to her in care of The Pantagraph, 301 W. Washington St., Bloomington, IL 61702-2907.