19 November

If you don’t like the steady trickle Christmas shop, or if you lack the time on the average day or lack a convenient emporium, then you can do your Christmas shopping in one big bang: allocate a morning (or a whole day) to go to a big shopping centre. Prepare yourself the night before: you’ll need comfortable shoes and a capacious bag and you should read your present list and your ideas through carefully and plan your approach.[1]

Theoretically, it’s still a good idea to get the presents you’re sure about first because you may get inspiration for the people you don’t have gifts for. In practice, this might lead to you walking the length of the shopping centre ten times over so, unless you’re keen for this to be physical exercise as well as a logistic exercise, shop geographically by visiting each relevant shop as you pass it.

Take your goods back to the car whenever they get too heavy[2] and stop frequently, either for food (whether from the food court or your own packed lunch, depending on your culinary and fiscal preferences) or just to do something revitalising (like reading the paper).[3]

Save the receipts – both for your records and in case you need to return anything.

Ready, set, shop!

I bought a really pretty china tea set for Pixie and some lovely wooden farm animals for Poppet. (I don’t know when I’ll see them over Christmas yet but I’ll make sure we meet some time in December.)

[1] My cousin Brian shops online but he still allocates a whole morning for it and he sits down in his study and wanders through web sites until he’s filled his Christmas list. (But he doesn’t wear comfortable shoes … or anything at all. He said he did it naked one particularly humid day and found it did such a good job of keeping his teenagers out of his study while he shopped that he has now made it a tradition.)

[2] Ignore this instruction if you travel by bus (and, if you do travel by bus, consider adding a weight limit to your price limit for presents).

[3] Or Snapchatting pictures of horrible items to your brother and threatening to buy them for him for Christmas, as Hannah did last year.

11 November

Remotely interested in shopping

Buying presents through the internet or by old-school mail order is particularly good for people who live a long way away because you can have the present delivered directly to their address.[1]

Some caveats:

  • If you want it to be a surprise, perhaps you can address it to someone else in the household and ask them to keep it from the recipient.[2]
  • Some of these websites have gift wrapping services but some don’t.
  • If you’re sending a present to someone who lives overseas, buy it from a website based in their country and organise local postage.[3]
11 nov 2016.jpg
Post haste.

Christmas Day 1970: Mum wanted to put Matthew to bed after our Mallee cousins left. Dad suggested that he skip his nightly bath but Mum looked at his jelly-smeared hands[4] and the mouth that had been eating lollies constantly since the morning and decided bathing wasn’t optional. Matthew didn’t want to miss anything[5] and started crying but then Auntie Pat suggested that Steve (who was a year older and hence a year cooler and a source of much fun)[6] join him in the bath and so the party continued and everything was fine.

[1] This works for nearly everyone but not for my friend Jenny’s brother-in-law when he spent a year in the Antarctic at one of the research stations. (He had a white Christmas, even though it was actually summer.)

[2] My friend Fiona and I cycled around Tasmania together after we left school and each bought our fathers “Tasmanian Wilderness” calendars for Christmas. The calendars came with good, sturdy mailing pouches, which meant we could send them home safely straight away but the pouches were emblazoned with logos that gave the game away. So I sent one to me c/o Fiona’s address and she sent one to herself c/o my address, and we each said, “Oh, it’s for my friend’s dad,” when we got home … but then just kept the one we had in our hands.

[3] Where possible. Not even Father Christmas delivers to Antarctica (even though he’s dressed for it).

[4] He had been forced to use a spoon when eating jelly, but that doesn’t stop a four-year-old from making a mess.

[5] Or perhaps he was resisting yet another change of clothes.

[6] I believe this is when Steve taught Matthew how to make fart sounds by blowing into the crook of his elbow.