My wife and I agree on very little when it comes to shopping. I use a list, she likes to wing it. I get in and get out, she likes to peruse each aisle. The one thing we can agree on is that we cannot shop together. I imagine we are not alone.
So in the interest of shopping harmony, I offer up the following tips for women who haven’t given up on the idea of their husband or boyfriend joining them on this year’s Christmas shopping expedition.
1. Do not take him to a store that you know he does not like. There are only a few places I absolutely refuse to go. One is Bath and Body Works. You can smell the place from the mall parking lot! And once inside I can almost guarantee the onset of a blinding headache or an asthma attack from the aromatic collection of fruity lotions.
2. Give us a list of items and turn us loose. Men, by nature, are hunter/gatherers. Give me a list of items you want me to bring back and challenge me by saying something like, “Oh nevermind, you’ll never find it” and then turn me loose! Be forewarned, I may bring back the wrong brand, size or color, so if you want specifics, say so!
3. Avoid crowded stores. I know this rule is hard to follow during the Christmas season as throngs of mega consumers are out and about shopping for loved ones. However, most guys are claustrophobic. And the idea of being packed like sardines in a crowded Victoria Secret store while you search a table of unmentionables ranks pretty high on our list of uncomfortable situations. If you must enter such a place, find one with a comfy bench outside and tell us to park it.
4. Plan your trip to the mall around male-friendly stores. Always keep your eyes peeled for diversions. If you need to stop by the Hallmark store you better look for a male-friendly place to send us while you sneak in a few card purchases to get this year’s $14 dancing, singing snowman. I highly recommend GNC Nutrition, Radio Shack, or any store with those playable video game demos on display. Warning: Move quickly, if you take longer than the time to play one quarter of Madden Football ’09 on the XBox 360 I might venture into Hallmark and scuttle your entire plan.
5. Communication is key. Bring along some two-way radios to keep in touch. Cell phones are not as fun, but they will do in a pinch. Bonus points for sexiness if you say things like, “Over,” “What’s your 20,” or can squawk “I love you” in Morse Code.
6. Do not take guys shopping on an empty stomach. Luring us to the store in exchange for the promise of food is a smart plan. If you can swing it, a pre-game meal involving steak will provide energy to get us through. And a post-game dessert over coffee is a nice reward for good behavior.
7. Do not ask for input on non-practical gifts. Seriously, we do not really care which figurine you send to Aunt Gertrude this year. To the male shopper figurines equal dust collectors. However, if you are trying to decide between an iPod or a Zune we will gladly share our opinions.
8. At least once during the trip, buy something because it is cheaper, or higher quality. Your frugality will impress us. Turn-ons include calculating the unit price, using a coupon, asking the salesperson for a discount, and comparing manufacturer warranties.
Shopping together this holiday season doesn’t have to be a miserable experience. But the responsibility for success or failure of a joint holiday shopping expedition lies mostly in the hands of women. Of course, this probably doesn’t surprise them. In my family, the entire Christmas season would be pretty bleak if it weren’t for the help of Mrs. Clause.