20 December, 2010

Bungalow 312 Guide to Christmas Shopping

All right, folks. Anyone out there leave their Christmas shopping until the last minute, like me? If so, there's not much you can do but grit your teeth, get in the car, and go. But I have a few tips that might make your excursion a little less painful.


BEFORE YOU LEAVE—PLAN!
  1. Put some beer or a bottle of wine in the refrigerator to chill.
  2. Make a list of the gifts you need sorted by location rather than by recipient. It's a good idea to think of this list as a guideline rather than set in stone. Don't plan on hitting more than three large stores (Walmart, Target, Toys 'R Us, the mall) in one day.
  3. Map a driving route. Avoid the really busy streets if at all possible, even if it means that you might have to go a little out of your way. It might even take you a few more minutes, but it will be much less aggravating. The fewer drivers who cross your path, the better. When planning your route, also keep in mind that it is much easier to make a right turn than a left turn onto busy streets.
  4. Take a large purse. It may seem counterintuitive to have to schlep around another large bag, but it will come in handy later. Trust me on this one.
  5. Pack your purse with wallet, phone, bottle of water, bottle of caffeinated beverage of choice, and a snack or two. I like granola bars and trail mix. If you are a knitter, pack some easy knitting.
  6. Unless temperatures outside are sub-zero, do not wear a winter coat. Wear a spring/fall jacket instead. Again, just trust me on this one. A little shivering on your way to the car will more than make up for not having to carry around a bulky coat later.

DRIVING/PARKING
  1. Before leaving the driveway, tune the radio to one of those stations that plays Christmas music 24-7 at this time of year. It will help set the mood.
  2. As you back out of the driveway, remind yourself that the number of idiot drivers on the road has increased tenfold this time of year. Vow not to be one of those idiot drivers and pray that you don't encounter many today.
  3. Parking is one of the biggest hassles when it comes to Christmas shopping. That's because we are not resigned to the fact that getting a parking spot isn't as easy as it usually is and we make the mistake of trying to find a close spot. Give it up. If you are at a Target or Walmart type of store, your goal is to get a spot close to a cart corral. If you are at the mall, just take the first open spot you find. The time you spend looking for a close spot will be more than the extra minute or two that it takes to walk into the mall from a spot further out.
  4. Remember where you parked so that this doesn't happen to you.

IN THE STORE

  1. Take off your coat and put it in your purse. If I ruled the world, I would keep stores and shopping malls at a cool 60 degrees so that shoppers wouldn't overheat. But I'm not in charge of the world, so take off your jacket.
  2. If there are carts available, take one as you walk in, even if you don't think you need one. You may stumble across a gift you hadn't thought of and substitute it for one later on the list. The fewer places you have to go, the better.
  3. Take a moment to orient yourself. Check out the mall directory or read the overhead signs. Mentally map a store route.
  4. Go. Be focused. Do not allow that pretty bauble or nifty gadget to distract you from your mission. As you walk, keep your eyes peeled for items that are on the list, whether they are on the list for that store or a different one. You might see something you had intended on getting somewhere else and will be able to cross "somewhere else" entirely off the list. I repeat: the fewer places you have to go, the better.
  5. Get in line. Don't worry about finding the shortest one. Knit while you wait.
  6. Get gift receipts.
  7. Put all receipts, gift and regular in the same location. Don't worry about sorting now. Don't allow the clerk to put them in the bag.
  8. Don't forget to rehydrate, recaffeinate, and feed yourself. It's also a good idea to stop in a bathroom from time to time when you see one rather than wait for the time when you really need one and can't find one.
  9. When you feel yourself beginning to tire, spend no more than 30 more minutes shopping. If you keep going longer than that, your attention will likely wane and you will become much less efficient.
  10. Pick up dinner on your way home. You are not going to cook this evening.

ONCE HOME
  1. NO! No beer for you! Although it's tempting to leave the gifts in the car, go in the house, and relax, you are not done yet. Now is the time you must dig in and rally. Bring all the packages into the house and into the same room. If you live with others, do this away from spying eyes. On your way to the room, grab some tape.
  2. Take out the receipts and sort them into two piles: gift receipts and regular receipts. Put the regular receipts away. Sort the gift receipts into piles by recipient.
  3. Take the gifts out of the bags and also sort by recipient. Remove price tags and tape gift receipts onto gifts. Put back into store bags, one bag per gift recipient. This is going to make wrapping so much easier later.
  4. Hide the gifts if necessary.
  5. It's still not time for that beer. Change into some really comfortable clothes.
  6. Reheat dinner if necessary.
  7. Now... eat dinner and consume alcoholic beverage. And vow not to leave the shopping until the last minute next year!

6 comments:

Mapleweave said...

Hey! Awesome tips. I have a couple to add to yours - if you get a cart, you can put your coat in the cart - but the cart is a MUST! Even if you're just shopping for a CD cos you never know what you may just see! Also, have 2 envelopes in your purse. One for the regular receipts and one for gift receipts. That way, you don't have to sort them later..

Kristyn said...

I have a lot of shopping left to do also. My tip is if you are planning to go to a store like Wal-Mart or Meijer that's open 24 hours go either late at night (after 9pm) or if you are an early riser in the morning (around 5-6am). No crowds to deal with!

Andrea said...

Ha! I already finished all my shopping.

Ok, ok, so it was all done in a marathon shopping event last night while dinner cooked in the crock pot. But at least it's done now.

Seona said...

Brilliant advice for any time of the year! I love a marathon shop like this albeit I usually do it in October to avoid the risks, but this is my kind of trip!

Merry Christmas to you and yours when it gets here x

Carol said...

Way too organized for me as I tend to be a bit more sporadic in my shopping!

Mom said...

I think I'll hire you to do my shopping next year.