Types of Christmas Shoppers

Ah Christmas. Hoping for snow, alternating between sparkly party outfits and all of the cosy layers, catching up with family and friends, eating and drinking too much because Christmas calories don’t count, and of course, shopping. There are many different approaches to the art of Christmas shopping – most of us have probably tried a few of these, and at this time of year, shoppers make for great people watching. Here are five of my favourites that I have encountered this year – drop me a comment with any others!

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  1. That one smug person we all know who is super organised, has all their gifts planned and bought in plenty of time, and because of their top organisational skills, doesn’t go over budget. You would hate them, but they always get you a really good present, so you can’t.
  2. The person who tries really hard to start early, but is easily distracted and ends up buying themselves a motivational present or two (or three…) before they manage to think seriously about their gift list. Upon reflection, gifts bought for self are often divided between like-minded friends and family.
  3. The coffee-breaker. They hate shopping, and can only cope with trawling through those pesky shops for 1-2 hours at a time before they need a break. Coffee (or mulled wine), and possibly a festive-themed cake is required to rejuvenate them, and allow them time to brace themselves to deal with the next few people on their list.
  4. The online shopper. He or she has an introvert’s aversion to crowds of people, and will have a pretty good idea of the latest possible order dates in time for Christmas. Depending on organisation levels, the online shopper may have a tendency to go over budget on express delivery, because it is totally worth the extra pennies to avoid people at all costs.
  5. The person who does it all in one day. There are two types of people who tend to take this approach. The first is the person who is very busy, and so allocates a specific date in their diary to Christmas shopping, and just makes it happen. The second is last minute Annie. ’Tis the night before Christmas, and for whatever reason, Annie has failed epically in all her grand plans to actually start Christmas shopping. With a list and a mapped out route of shops, this approach can be very efficient, but without, it may result in running around like a headless chicken and fighting other shoppers for the last copy of the only video game you are certain your cousin doesn’t have.

 

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The value of an honest shopping companion

Last week, I went shopping not for myself, but for my sister, partly because I am a wonderful big sister, and partly because I have no money. In the changing rooms, as well as giving her my opinion on the clothes she was trying on, naturally I took the opportunity to have a nosey at other people’s outfit choices, and eavesdrop on their conversations.

What I observed, I have seen before, but the phenomenon continues to baffle me. Why, when your friend is trying on something that clearly doesn’t suit them and asks for your opinion, would you say they look gorgeous? In this particular instance, I was watching two girls, early twenties, one of whom was asking the other’s opinion on a skirt that looked very uncomfortable. She was pulling it down, and trying to smooth the creases produced by the fact that it very much didn’t fit her.

If this was my friend, I know, without a doubt, that my response would be; “It doesn’t fit properly”, probably followed by a suggestion of something that I think would look better. However, here, the other girl said: “Yeah, it looks great, what do you think of this dress?”

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Images from Pinterest

To my mind, there are a number of possible reasons for this. One might be she doesn’t particularly like the other girl, and wants to sabotage her appearance. Another could be she simply wasn’t paying attention and was totally focused on her own dress – observation and multitasking fail – if this is the case, I bet she’s not a people-watcher. However, my guess is the reason for the unhelpful verdict on the skirt is a strange form of politeness, a very British fear of causing offense.

I understand this kind of false flattery between strangers – with someone you don’t know, blunt honesty can easily be mistaken for being nasty or bitchy. But this wasn’t the case here; when the two girls were leaving the changing rooms, they were chatting and laughing, obviously very comfortable in each other’s company.

My next question is, am I unusual in that I wouldn’t be at all offended if a friend told me they didn’t like my outfit choice? I’d much rather have honesty, however brutal, than false compliments.

Perhaps, some people feel they can only comment positively on their friends’ appearances, out of loyalty, but to me, this logic seems a tad confused. It’s not appropriate, in fact it would be considered rude, for a stranger, or even an acquaintance to make a negative comment about your appearance. (Hence why, much as I wanted to, I refrained from commenting on the ill-fitting skirt of my changing room neighbour.) So, it falls to your friends to give honest opinions and advice. If you can’t trust your friends to be honest about something as simple as your clothes, why would you ask their advice on (arguably) more important life decisions, like relationships or career choices?

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you abandon all tact and start critiquing everything your friends say and do; if your opinion isn’t asked, chances are your friend doesn’t want to hear it. For example, I have a penchant for wearing dungarees. I realise that some would say they are a questionable fashion choice, but I quite simply don’t care. They’re fun, and if the fabulous Prince George is wearing them, they must be cool.

Nonetheless if a friend asks your opinion, as a general rule, that means they are unsure, and want advice. So, whatever this odd kind of politeness is, it really needs to stop. An honest shopping companion is invaluable; someone you know cares enough about you to be truthful, whether you need advice on what to wear tonight, or what you should do with your life. Do your friends a favour, and give them honest opinions. Trust me, they’ll thank you for it.

 

Kirsty x