Avoiding the Crowds: Shopping Near the Holidays

Shopping near the holidays is a nightmare; there isn’t an adult on the planet who doesn’t know that. As crowds begin to flock toward the shops, it becomes increasingly difficult to find what you’re looking for without diving into a suffocating throng. But if you haven’t finished your pre-holiday shopping yet, you’re out of luck and those crowds are a reality you will have to face. So how do you best manage to buy the bits and bats you still need?

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When it comes to food-shopping, many people assume they will have to venture out and fight the mobs at their local Sainsbury’s, Tesco or Asda. But why not think outside the box – or inside it? If you hurry on to Abel & Cole you can still order a vegetable box, a fruit box, or any manner of Christmassy meats and sundries. These boxes will be delivered to you by a local delivery driver who thinks outside the box, too – he’ll find a safe place to leave your organic foods if you aren’t in, so if you’re working right up to Christmas Eve you’re still going to get your necessities. The food is organic and delicious, and considering those factors, it’s really reasonably priced, too. Plus, delivery costs only 99 pence!

In terms of Christmas presents, it’s a little more difficult, isn’t it? In previous years, Amazon.co.uk and the like have been old reliable standbys, but after last year’s delivery disaster, leaving many people – like myself – with long-ordered items undelivered until literally Christmas Eve, many of us are wary about going out on that particular limb again. The solution’s pretty easy, however; spring for next-day shipping and you won’t have to wait so long. Hopefully the snow won’t interfere with the delivery schedule this year, but if it does you’re still more likely to receive your items in time.

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If you are going to venture out – as I am, since my husband is now refusing to use Amazon at all – be clever and be structured. Wandering around finding presents for those whose gifts you haven’t decided on yet is one thing, but don’t take it too far. Make a list of places to look and head out, sticking to your list as best you can. HMV for DVDs, CDs and posters; Game for video games and Lush for lovely smellies, for example. If anyone has given you an Amazon wish list, copy it over to Notepad or Word and print it out; bring a pen, so you can strike out what you’ve already found. Make sure you capitalise any gifts that are particularly important, so you can ensure you don’t forget. Bring a buggy for smaller children; even three-year-olds who usually walk will benefit from being easily found and difficult to jostle. You don’t want to risk losing hold of his or her hand and being unable to locate him or her immediately; for your child this can be a very frightening experience in the best of circumstances, which pre-Christmas crowds most definitely are not!

Finally, keep your cool. It’s easy to lose your nerve or get overwhelmed, but you can do it if you remind yourself to breathe easily and walk at your own pace. And even if it is hellish… You only have to do it once a year!

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