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Guide to Christmas Shopping for the 21st Century


David Miller Online.

The Guide to Christmas Shopping for the 21st Century Man.

It was not until I was at my parent’s place at the weekend that I realised that Christmas was looming once again. Every year my mother decorates all the windows of the conservatory with Santa Claus stickers, however this year she has gone a step better and plastered them all over the fridge. Then I heard my girlfriend Nicky trying to decide how big her tree should be. To be honest all this has put me in a rather bleak mood. It is not that I do not like Christmas but I realised that once again I will leave my Christmas shopping to the last minute and to cap it all off I have no idea what to buy. Usually I drag my mother along to make sure everything I buy is acceptable, but this year I turned 30 so perhaps it is time I went alone. How will a 21st Century man cope with perils of Christmas shopping?

Last year I read an article in a magazine that claimed Christmas was just one big money making vehicle and the spirit had been lost from the festive season. The article claimed that due to the constant advertising and commercialism that accompanies Christmas, people have been forced into giving gifts rather than being able to give spontaneously. I felt there was some merit in this point of view but I did not agree with it. For one thing, Christmas is a time for giving and no matter how much you hate shopping and spending money at this time of year there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Therefore the 21st Century man must accept this point and try and devise a way in which the ordeal can be less stressful.

Every year I make a promise to myself that I will do my shopping early in the year and make sure that I beat the Christmas rush and every year my promise goes completely out the window. The basic problem when it comes to Christmas shopping is what to buy. Usually this does not apply to other males as you simply look for whatever you would want for a present and buy them that. This is what I do when I am buying for my father, except on the not infrequent occasion when he passes the word through my mother that he wants a CD. It is females that pose the problem.

My advice when buying presents for females is to try and learn what they would like before Christmas arrives and if you have to ask them outright what to buy them do not be afraid to do so. This has led me to being accused of having no imagination and it saves the suffering that will inevitably occur when you turn up with a handful of vouchers from the chemist. I once overheard Nicky complaining about some music vouchers she once got for a birthday and that they were obviously purchased at the last minute. Point taken. So listen for some hints prior to going shopping. I believe that having no imagination is better than turning up with a totally inappropriate gift, the same one you bought for her birthday a few months back or one that will never again see the light of day after the 25th of December.

My next piece of advice is do not rely on your friends to come to your aid. I was having a few drinks with some friends recently when we started to discuss Christmas. Admittedly shopping was not the topic of conversation, instead we were reminiscing about how drunk we all got at a party last year and how one chap will never be forgiven for being late for his parent’s champagne breakfast and looking like a ghost. When the topic of shopping arose and what to buy was raised the group went decidedly quiet and everyone shrugged their shoulders and mumbled “God knows”. Then a few suggestions where offered. The one I liked the most was hot air ballooning and I thought there was some merit in this. It was much better than the others that I heard that night which included chocolates, a plant or some lingerie. My second piece of advice is always to have a few alternatives up your sleeve. Even better make a list in case you make it to the store and suffer a memory blank or when in the mall at ten o’clock on the night of Christmas Eve panic. This is what I intend to do this year and what I strongly advise for my fellow male shoppers, especially Nicky’s brother Simon who quite frankly has a memory like a sieve.

If you do not follow this advice you can be assured of a demanding time at the shops. You will find that you will look in every shop in the mall or city centre, ranging from gift shops to jewellery stores and for those who are totally desperate, the chemist. Each time you enter a shop there is always the vain hope that something will leap off the shelf at you which is exactly the sort of present you are looking for and that matches your desire not to spend a fortune. Invariably this never happens and after twenty minutes of praying for this, eventually a retail assistant decides to take pity on you and helps out.

The retail assistant is your saviour in times such as this. They have no doubt seen thousands of confused, frustrated and totally hopeless shopper’s pass through their doors and are highly skilled to deal with them. When they encounter you they will ask two standard retail industry questions. The first is “are you all right there?” This is almost immediately followed by “have you seen anything you like?” As your answer will be no to both, they will then take you through a list of options as though you were learning your ABC. Even though you will feel like a child trying to choose sweets in the candy store you can rest assured that you will find the right gift for that someone special. All I can do is wish my fellow 21st Century men the best of luck in these trickiest of times, drag your poor mum along and remember that buying her that socket set that matches the one you already have will probably not make your relationship stronger.


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