Christmas shopping. Two words that strike fear into the heart of the half-arsed girl. The activity involves many things that require being arsed: thinking, making lists, braving crowds of people, carrying heavy objects on public transport...
Even the prospect of a cheery German Christmas Market with steaming mugs of Glühwein is tainted by the fact that NO ONE really cares about charming Bavarian handy-crafts in the months January-November.
Christmas shopping is hard work. And once you’ve got it all done? Then comes the wrapping. Wrapping deserves its very own half-arsed guide, but in the meantime, here are some tips to help slay the Santa hat-wearing beast that is your gift list:
The ‘Perfect’ Gift
This doesn’t exist, so best not try to find it. You can waste hours trying figure out which White Company fragrance best captures the essence of Auntie Sue, only for Auntie Sue to regift the carefully selected candle come Christmas 2013.
If the pursuit of perfection bothers you, cut the crap and ask people outright what they truly and honestly want. If they reply “M&S gift vouchers”, who are you to quibble? Boring it maybe, but it makes your job easier and they’ll be able to sale shop for Blue Harbour basics to their hearts content.
For those less bothered about giving people their spirit gift, why not theme your gifts? When I say ‘theme’, I mean give everyone the same thing. SPOILER ALERT: My Christmas 2012 gift theme is Dodo Pads – if you know me, you now know what you’re getting. Sorry.
The Art of Shopping Online
The internet makes shopping easier, or so the fairytale goes. No, the internet only makes shopping easier if you never have to leave the house. Otherwise, life becomes a chaotic flurry of “Sorry you were out” cards and mysteriously vanishing Amazon parcels. Then there are the drives to Yodel (hahahaha) depots in farflung industrial estates to contend with. Nothing saps festive cheer faster than standing in a freezing warehouse bickering with a gruff fellow in a green fleece over the validity of your proof of address.
Rationalise your online Christmas shopping so that it involves as few deliveries as possible. This is easy when taking the themed approach outlined above. Pick a couple of retailers that can cater for as many family and friends as possible then tick off your gift list in a couple of clicks.
The Craft Conundrum
Handmade gifts fall into two camps: the cheapskate disaster area or the expertly made smug zone. If your prime motivation for taking the craft route is to save money, then it is best to perform a u-turn and head back to the nearest branch of Home Sense. They sell all sorts of whimsical crap that you can quite easily pass off as ‘homemade’. Alternatively, stock up on macaroni, PVA glue and gold paint and let 2012 be the year of faux-naïf (crappy) art gifts!
Despite Kirstie Allsop’s protestations otherwise, a homemade Christmas is by no means thrifty. Doing it right takes time and money, especially if you want to give people things that they’ll actually use/eat.
Some words of warning based on REAL LIFE! experience: People will appreciate some of the effort that went into a bar of homemade soap, but they won’t appreciate the tears shed whilst attempting to achieve saponification by stirring a vat of bubbling fatty gloop. Make sure that the end results match the effort!
Image via Demented-Pixie's Flickr