Sunday, December 07, 2008

Ten Ways to Improve your Christmas Shopping Experience

I was in two malls yesterday…no, not Christmas shopping, I was looking for paper clips…and it is likely I won’t go again until after the “festive season.” Based on my brief but brutal experiences yesterday, I have come up with a list of ten “DOs” and “DON’Ts” for holiday shoppers.

1. DO bring your manners with you. Smile at people, give way, say “excuse me,” “please,” and “thank you.” Wait your turn, no matter how tempted you are to jump the queue or how big your hurry. Courtesy is contagious: spread it around.

2. DON’T bring your children. You will have to divide your attention between minding your children and minding your shopping, which means you will not be able to give either of them your full attention. Leaving your kids at home will reduce the numbers of people in the mall, it will improve the experience and mood of other shoppers not to have to deal with little children darting between their ankles and chattering teens clogging up already narrow aisles, and your own shopping experience be unmarred by whining demands for every plaything on display. Offer to watch a neighbour’s child so she can shop without distraction if she will watch yours.

3. DO be aware of your surroundings. You aren’t the only person in the mall entitled to a positive shopping experience. If you have taken your children, keep them close with you so they don’t get in the way of other shoppers; walk no more than two abreast so your entourage doesn’t block the aisles and walkways for others; park your shopping cart/baby stroller/large box in such a way that it doesn’t prevent other from getting around it or seeing the display. Avoid making sudden stops and look behind you before you turn around. Stop at the corners of aisles before you enter: don’t just bull your way into an intersection aisle and crash into other shoppers.

4. DON’T stuff your wallet with large bills/notes and bring the marginal credit cards with you. Do what you can to maximize speed at the cashier, so don’t hand over big bills for which the have no change or credit cards that may be rejected. Make sure your purchases all have bar codes or price tags on them before you join the queue to pay up.

5. DO be thoughtful in the parking lot. Don’t “swoop and squat,” grabbing the parking space that someone else has obviously been waiting for. It makes for ill will in a season that is supposed to be one of goodwill towards our fellows. When you find a parking spot, make sure you park correctly. Take the time to park properly in the space, not sticking too far out (if you drive an SUV, refrain from parking in compact car spaces, for example), not parked at an angle that will make it difficult for cars to enter or exit adjacent spaces…you could return to find yourself the recipient of some instant karma: you parked with selfish disregard to others and return to find your vehicle damaged. Also, be sure that you park only in spaces you are entitled to occupy. A disabled person does not know you will be in the store for “just a few seconds,” so he will park out in the hinterlands and struggle to get to the shops because you, able bodied but thoughtless, have taken his space.

6. DON’T have conversations in the aisles and walkways. If you run into a friend and you simply must chat with her, go to a bench or a coffee shop where you can chat to your heart’s content without being a traffic hazard.

7. DO let others out of lifts, shops, restrooms, and other small spaces before you try to get in…and insist that your children do the same. It doesn’t take much brainpower to figure out that letting people out makes more room for you to get in!

8. DON’T be in a rush. Sorry, but the fact that you are in a hurry doesn’t give you the right to toss away the rules of common courtesy. If you are running behind schedule and feeling impatient, that is your consequence for your own failure to manage your time appropriately and you cannot take it out on other drivers, shoppers, or the clerks. If you are behind schedule, then you must reorder the schedule if you can’t make up the time without trampling all over someone else’s feelings or rights. You may have to hold some of your shopping over to another day, you may have to give up something you want…but you cannot use being in a hurry as an excuse to burn the etiquette book.

9. DO be prepared and shop smart. Make a list of the people you need to shop for and order them by priority. Then, beside their names, list possible gifts and the stores where you think you might find the items. When you enter one of the stores on the list, shop for everyone who has this store name next to their own name. You won’t need to come back this way, allowing your shopping to become a progression rather than endless loops of backtracking. Also, if you run out of time or money, if you shop from the top of the list down, those people who have the lowest priority can be dropped from the list if necessary.

10. DON’T be a humbug! Go with a good spirit and with good cheer. Smile at the people who crash into your cart and forgive those who steal your parking space or snatch the last copy of that CD your child has been whining endlessly about. Be aware that you are blessed to be able to walk through the aisles with enough money to buy something for the people you love most: too many people in this world are hard pressed to have even enough to eat. Spread good cheer instead of crabbiness about that which is not perfect about your shopping experience. It is your own attitude that ultimately dictates how pleasant or unpleasant it will be, not the oblivious actions of those around you. Smile! Be of good cheer! Now get out there and shop!!


  1. The madness of Christmas shopping. Since we moved to the UK I do all Christmas shopping online. Rather spend time at home making decorations and baking with the kids.

    I like the new template background colour. It's much easier to read your posts without the eyes getting tired.

  2. What about:

    11. Don't spend more than you can afford!


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