How to Ease the Battle of Christmas Shopping

If last minute Christmas shopping is not something that you do for fun, then it can seem like a real battle.

It is 8:55 on Christmas Eve morning. A small army of last minute shoppers secure the perimeter of a department store, ready to charge the door the same instant the key releases the lock. They are prepared, armed with shopping list in one gloved hand, handbag and/or extra carry-all clutched tightly in the other. The next five minutes move by far too slowly, and the crowd is getting itchy to spring into action, but they wait.

It is now 8:59:59 and the group quiets expectantly, waiting for the audible click of the lock being turned. They cluster even tighter, trying to ensure they make it through the doors before the person next to them. Twitching the straps of their bags, they ready themselves for the sprint, waiting out the last few seconds on taut nerves. Then the signal!

In a great wave, the crowd surges forward, filling the aisles with people and the employees with fear. Within seconds the entire store is an occupied combat zone. Customers are elbowing their way to the front row of sale bins, wrestling with the enemy for the last available Barbie doll in town, and shooting their Christmas budget full of holes. The frazzled staff will see no relief until the lock is once more securely in place.

Back at home base, the exhausted combatants can be found in the midst of ribbons and paper. They fought a brave battle for the purchases, and now it is time to wrap things up. At two o'clock in the morning, the last present is laid under the tree, and finally, the time has come for some rest.

If purchasing warfare is not your idea of a good time, you can avoid the chaos of last minute shopping with a little bit of planning. The pointers below may help you with your strategy.

* If you don't know what someone you are buying for wants, narrow it down to a few choices. This will decrease the miles you walk as you look at every gift item in every store. Looking through catalogues or online may help you come up with some ideas.

* Have at least some alternative gift idea in case what you are looking for is hard to find. Stores can run out of stock close to the holiday. You will save yourself a trip by calling ahead to check that your sought after item is available.

* Obtain as many gifts as possible through mail order or online. I know some people who use eBay for their gift buying. You may have to pay a little extra for shipping and handling, but weigh that against the alternatives. It may be worth a few bucks just to avoid having to haul packages on the bus, or trying to find a parking space.

* Take advantage of gift wrapping services. Instead of wrapping until the wee hours of the morning, bring as many items home all ready to place under the tree. Some places do this for free, others charge for the service. Ask a store employee.

Of course, some people enjoy that hustle and bustle of shopping the week before Christmas. Apparently, it puts them in the festive mood. If you are one of these people, then don't change a thing, just enjoy.

If you are among the many others, then perhaps you'll read these tips early enough in the season to free yourself and your energy to have some fun and family time during the holidays. That's what it's supposed to be about, isn't it?

Merry Christmas and Happy Shopping!

*** This article first appeared in The Old South Advocate in London, Ontario in the 1990's. It was written by Shirley Anderson and reprinted here with permission from the author. As you can probably tell, it was written pre internet shopping, but still a very entertaining read. ***

Have Something to Share with Christmas Canada Readers?

Have an interesting Canadian Christmas story to share or an organization that could use a little exposure to help their cause at Christmas time? Maybe you'd like a shot at guest posting. Just send an email to to have your submission considered. All serious inquiries will receive a response.