Last year was terrible. You had thought you had everything under control. You knew what you had to buy – which was a bonus on previous years – you knew where to get it and you even knew what size. You were a champion of men and you had this Christmas shopping lark cracked. Yes, it was the 24th December. The shops were due to shut in half an hour but you were in control. You were cruising. Steve McQueen would have given you a nod in recognition of your cool demeanour. By this point you were
in full hunter/gatherer mode. You entered the shop and located the garment with laser precision. This is too easy, you thought as you swaggered up the rail. That was when your mouth went dry. Beads of sweat gathered on your forehead. All extraneous information evaporated as you zoned in on the key information, checking again and again, fingers fumbling as you flicked the hangers back and forth in the vain hope of finding the elusive size 12 when there were only size 6 and size 24 left. It is then that you lock eyes with the man beside you, his grey complexion shiny with sweat under the striplights, a rictus grin on his face; only to realise that you’re staring into a mirror.
It doesn’t have to be like this.
Here is my handy guide on how to not just survive, but to conquer Christmas shopping.*
1. The Internet is your friend
It was not so long ago that in the hours leading up to Christmas Eve closing you would find herds of men flitting from perfume shop to perfume shop, looking for that special gift and hoping not to have confused their partner’s favourite scent with that of their mother’s. Not any more. A quick Google search will bring up thousands of lists of the perfect gift for ‘her’, complete with links to buy it online. And if you order it too late? Print off a picture and stick it in their Christmas card (you did buy a Christmas card, didn’t you?)
2. Ask her best friend for help
Some of you may be organised enough to know that a present is needed but haven’t a clue what to get. It’s the age old problem, what to buy for the person who has everything (i.e. you). Never fear, help is at hand: her best friend. Now I’m not for a minute saying you should ask outright. That would be crazy. But you could try this:
You: “I’ve been struggling to find that gift (add partners name here) has wanted for so long.”
BFF: “Wow, you’re finally going to buy her a (gift name)?”
You: Coughs at the thought of how expensive (gift name) is. “Yes, that’s the one. I just can’t find it anywhere?”
BFF: “You’re such an idiot. They’re selling them at (store name).”
You: “They wouldn’t happen to have a sale on?”
BFF: Laughter/dirty look depending on whether best friend thinks you are good enough for your partner. “No.”
You see. A short conversation and you have all the information you need.
3. Look in her wardrobe
Some of you may have partners that suddenly discover clothes that they had forgotten they had bought. You know the ones, they tend to look expensive and when you ask your partner when they had bought it they tend to blush as they reply that they had found it in the back of the wardrobe (along with Narnia, given the amount of lost clothes she tends to find). Well have a hunt yourself. Look for something that looks pristine, may still have a price tag, and has definitely been hidden back as far in the wardrobe as possible. Then wrap it and give it back on Christmas day. She’ll be delighted.
And if all else fails…
4. Make something
Yes, she may have hinted at a new top (you remember the hint, the photograph she had cut from a magazine and left on your pillow with “BUY ME THIS FOR CHRISTMAS” scribbled at the top) but you saw the look in her eyes when her child/nephew/niece gave her that scribbled on toilet roll tube with bits of glitter and coloured wool stuck around the sides. Imagine the love she would feel when she sees the necklace you make her out of a piece of string, some offcuts of wood and a dremel. It’s the type of act that can make this Christmas one to remember.
*If you are female, you may be wondering why I am posting this guide so close to Christmas. Surely all the shopping is done by now? You are giving the male species far too much credit. It’s not even a week before Christmas. Most men haven’t even started thinking about gifts for anyone else (although they will have their eye on a PlayStation 4/new TV/barrel of Winter beer for themselves).