Step 1 – Don’t fucking bother. Why put yourself through it? Stay at home, put your feet up and become a Scientologist or a Jedi Knight for the Christmas period, that way you don’t even have to celebrate it. Ah, if only, eh?
If, like me, you don’t have the luxury of ditching the shopping, changing religion and fucking the whole thing off, then here are a few little tips that I thought of today as I did my own Christmas shopping. Now, obviously it’s too late for me, but you might save yourself a shitload of hassle if you keep these points in mind (or you might not. You might be an absolute liability and beyond any help I can pretend to give you) as you traipse around the shops this Christmas.
Let’s begin then, shall we? My main slice of advice to you during this shopping shitshow is to make everything as ridiculously easy for yourself as you possibly can. I know, it does seem like this is just common sense, but there may be some elements that you might have overlooked. For example, for the last two years, I have been working on convincing my kid that Smyth’s toy shop is actually Santa’s workshop and Santa sends out the catalogues to all the good children, so that they can choose what they want to put on their list (if you don’t subscribe to the Smyth’s catalogue and my kid discusses this with your kid, I’m sorry). By doing this, I have ensured that he will only include stuff from the catalogue in his list and I can then get everything in one go and from the same place. Bish, bash, fucking bosh! (As you will soon discover though, even I manage to fuck up this seemingly foolproof plan).
When it comes to choosing your shopping destination (provided, of course, that you aren’t now tied to your nearest branch of Smyth’s) make sure you take the time to find out if there is anything going on before you spend your precious free time travelling there. Do not make the same mistake I made today – choosing to go on the very day they’re holding their annual Christmas Fair. You will end up sitting in traffic for what feels like the rest of eternity and you will have to park half a mile (well, as long as we’re not overreacting or anything) away from the shop. Guaranteed to put even the jolliest of souls (which I usually am) in a pissy mood.
Right, now then, remember my ingenious parenting hack with the Smyth’s catalogue and Santa’s list? Well, I am here to tell you that this is only an ingenious parenting hack if you remember to take the fucking list with you, otherwise it’s just an epic failure. The list – the hub of the whole operation, the heart of any shopping trip – is of absolutely no use to anyone sitting at home on the kitchen fucking worktop. Now you’re having to guess your way around the shop like you’ve just come out of a 25 year coma and you don’t know what anything is anymore. I’m pretty sure there were a couple of things that I forgot to get, but fuck going back. I’m going to do what any self respecting parent would do in this situation – exonerate myself of any responsibility and blame it all on Santa, like he was a 1980s TV personality.
Whatever you do buy, either by following the list you remembered to bring (now you’re just showing off!) or by totally winging it, you should, wherever possible, buy things that come in actual boxes. I don’t mind doing a bit of wrapping (that sensation you get when the scissors glides through the paper is, I imagine, what heroin must feel like), but who in their right mind enjoys wrapping things that are shaped like unwanted rejects from a nuclear fallout zone – dodgy bits sticking out all over the place, the packaging all cutaways and unnatural angles. There’s no need for it, man. No need whatsoever.
While you’re aimlessly manoeuvring up and down the towering aisles, it is massively important that you watch where you’re going at all times – hypervigilance is key here, people. The minute you get distracted, the second you take your eye off the ball, the likelihood of you bumping into either another shopper, a poorly assembled display of toys or a kid who could, quite frankly, probably benefit from a clip around the ear hole, increases tenfold. When this happens, the best course of action for the sake of peace (goodwill to all men and that), is to swallow your anger, take a deep breath and apologise. Everyone is in the same boat. We are all just lunatics trying to escape the asylum.
I think the most important piece of advice I can give you is that while the whole ‘festive shopping experience’ is never gonna be enjoyable, it doesn’t have to be a complete write off. You can still find joy in anything even remotely amusing that comes your way (it’s what Jesus would have wanted, so fuck it). Trust me, it will make the whole endeavour so much more bearable.
So, when the kid that has been belting around the shop like a total nutter, banging into your trolley every time he passes you while his parents do their level best to absolutely blank him (kudos, they did a cracking job of it, like), falls on his arse after he, rather enthusiastically, bumps into the front of your trolley (the fact that you might have had a little enthusiasm of your own going forward once you realised a collision was imminent is totally irrelevant), be happy about it. Obviously, don’t show it. That kind of shit will likely result in you getting a hiding, but you can laugh your fucking head off on the inside without anyone knowing. When you see a dude being physically escorted out of the shop (a toy shop, don’t forget) by three beef bus looking security guards, who then stand outside the main doors of the shop arguing with the guy they’ve just ejected, don’t be polite and try to act like you’re not the nosiest bastard in the world because, and I can’t stress this enough, you will regret it. You will feel this regret for the rest of the day whenever you try to tell anyone the story because everybody you tell, no exceptions, will ask, and rightfully so, what the guy had done wrong and you won’t have an answer for them. What an anti-climax, eh? So, if this should happen to you, stop what you’re doing and get yourself a good vantage point within earshot and find out what’s going on. Otherwise, all you will end up with is a half arsed story that won’t even be worth telling.
That’s about all the advice I can give you, to be honest. Hopefully it helped you out a bit, lightened your load at what can be a very stressful time. If it didn’t help you at all, well, what the fuck did you expect, eh? Good luck with your shopping and, honestly, give the whole Jedi Knight thing some consideration next year.