|Copyright 2005 Michael Hayles
What would you do in this situation?
Itís approaching 1.50pm, youíve been in a queue for the past twenty minutes, clutching that prized gift, which has been the devilís own job to track down. If the two people still ahead of you each take no longer than a minute or so to get served, you may just squeak back into the office by the 2pm deadline - and, as youíre painfully aware, thereís an important meeting scheduled for 2.15.
The first of the two customers ahead of you is an elderly lady who is having great difficulty remembering her pin number and having keyed in the wrong number three times has become very flustered and upset as she searches for some alternative way to pay.
The store manager is called for on the internal phone and as the queue behind you starts to lengthen, you realise that getting back by the 2pm deadline is already beyond hope.
Frantically, you start to calculate the maximum amount of time you dare hold out for, if you are to avoid being late for that vital meeting.
You consider asking the assistant if she can put the gift by for you, but all her attention is focused on consoling the distraught woman, whose card has been refused. You even consider offering to pay for her goods yourself, but since you have just enough to cover your own purchase that wouldnít work either.
As the manager arrives and takes the old lady aside, the assistant turns her attention to the customer directly in front of you. You try to catch her eye, but she has already scanned the first of several items he has been patiently holding.
A quick glance at the time tells you that unless you leave in the next few seconds, you wonít make the meeting.
Now, what do you do?
OK, I know this is an extreme example of the kind of horrors that can befall us, as we struggle through the annual ritual of Christmas shopping, but, as Iím sure many of you reading this know only too well, it is not that rare an occurrence.
The fact is, few of us plan out the best way to tackle this seasonal assault course and itís not until we find ourselves in the thick of it, that we realise how much easier a pre-prepared plan of action would make the task.
We may have very ordered minds for work related matters, domestic essentials and important relationship issues, but somehow when it comes to Christmas shopping, reason flies out of the window and it all becomes one mad scramble to get everything done before time and everything else runs out.
Itís as if thereís some unwritten law that says Christmas shopping is meant to be spontaneous and chaotic. If you enter into it by any other means, you are considered a killjoy with no festive spirit. But why?
What is wrong with taking a sober, reasoned approach to this often highly expensive pursuit? There are plenty of people, who have given up buying Christmas presents altogether and when you look at the pandemonium that frequently takes root in our shopping centres at this time of year, who can blame them?
Take a quick look at your emotional barometer the next time youíre out in the gift jungle and ask yourself it all this hassle is really worth it. Half the time, you end up getting the wrong thing, or duplicate something someone else has bought and what about the cost of it all?
Are you someone who sets a strict budget for each person you are buying for, or do you go at it with such reckless abandon that you max out all your credit by Christmas Eve?
If neither of these identifies you, where do you fit in to the Christmas shopping picture and is there anything you can do to improve the experience?
One of the big secrets is shopping early enough to avoid all this. Buying gifts online can also work wonders provided you do it before all the high demand items get sold out. Either way, it isnít going to do you much good if youíre reading this now while the rush is already in full swing.
My solution is to find something that is generally available all year round, but still makes a great gift. Jewellery and watches are perfect for this as you can seek out what would suit the person you are buying for and then adjust your options to fit the price range youíre comfortable with. Avoid fads and the very latest styles, too many others will be after those.
And once your shopping is complete, you at least have the satisfaction of knowing you have chosen something a bit special that is unlikely to be duplicated without putting your personal finances under too much pressure. And for that you are fully entitled to feel pleased with yourself.
By the way, if you need any help selecting a watch, click the link below to get a handy free report on how best to choose the perfect watch for someone else (or yourself for than matter). It just might make your Christmas a whole lot happier.
Michael Hayles is a playwright and song lyricist with a passion for horse racing. A self-confessed spendaholic when 'in the money', he is considered something of a fanatic where watches are concerned.
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