Friday, December 23, 2011

OK, Put Your Head Between Your Knees and Just Breath

Ok, let’s sit down for a minute…I know, I know, you’re getting more stressed about Christmas being 48 hours away.

But, let’s be honest. If you’ve waited this long to try and find that “just right” present…well, you should have been shopping on Labor Day when the decorations went up.

So, in order to help you out, I’m reprinting my ’08 article about “Men and Holiday Shopping” (©2008 Mike Collins).

Please feel free to forward.

Men and Holiday Shopping

In the spirit of the season here are “The 10 Secrets Men Use When Shopping for the Holidays.” I realize that I am risking my standing with my brothers by revealing these secrets. In fact, this is chapter seven in Things Every Guy Should Know, the book we are given at birth. It is the same book that explains why we leave the toilet lid up and why body noises and The Three Stooges are funny. We are not supposed to share these secrets but I’m tired of hearing the complaining.

The 10 Secrets Men Use When Shopping for the Holidays

1. We understand that the focus is not holiday shopping, it is holiday buying. Shopping infers comparison and that takes time. Men only shop for things we want, like golf clubs, waders, or barbecue tongs. We don’t comparison shop for gifts for others. Spending an extraordinary amount of time searching for and buying “just the right gift” is more of a gift to the giver than the recipient. Buy it and move on. The shopping vs. buying rule is the basic difference in men and women when it comes to holiday shopping, Being buying-focused is the Number One Time Saver in holiday shopping.

2. We are experts at feigned ignorance and incompetence. Men escape more work--not just shopping and wrapping--by faking being clueless than with any other strategies. We buy or do something we know is stupid or inappropriate early in a relationship and then women assume that we just can‘t handle shopping. Think about it, our brothers created The Theory of Relativity, brain surgery, fantasy football and Snuggies. It isn’t that we can’t shop, it’s just that we don’t want to.

3. We delegate. We aren’t shy about asking someone to shop for us. This can be an extension of Rule #2 as in, “Honey, you know I never buy the right gift.” Or, we claim to be too busy, hurt, sad or confused. My favorite is, “I can do this but I know you love the whole shopping experience so here‘s the money, have fun.”
Also, we aren’t shy about letting some thing, a computer, do our shopping. This is where online shopping can help, but any man who does all his Christmas shopping sitting in front of a computer is forgetting the basic rule of manliness, “Every now and then you have to venture into the jungle.”

4. We know that re-gifting is a wonderful example of being environmentally friendly and if it was that good a gift other people ought to get to enjoy it. It isn’t that we are uncaring when we recycle a gift, it’s just plain good sense. Our logic about past gifts is that if we haven’t used it we probably didn’t need it so maybe someone else will enjoy it. A great recycling strategy is to pass on an artifact. Giving an old glove or soccer ball or passing on an item owned by a relative who has, well, passed on (now, don‘t do that aaaaawwwww sound, they don’t need it any more) means we may not even have to leave the house to obtain a gift.

5. We realize that using humor as a strategy makes gift acquisition a form of entertainment. A singing, vibrating, battery-operated hampster costs the same as a 3-pack of socks and squeezing the activation switches on six or seven of the little devices one after the other in the store is worth the trip. And if the gift is opened in front of others it serves a dual purpose, a gift for one and fun for all.

6. We clearly understand the GATT Treaty. Centuries ago men signed the Gift Acquisition and Time Treaty. The treaty states that we do not have to travel so far to get a gift that it endangers getting back in time for the game. The point is that there is no need to travel very far for gifts (See Rule #7).

7. We understand that one source can often fill most, and maybe all, of a gift list. Chain pharmacies have turned into mini-department stores with candy, toiletries, books, specialty items such as eyebrow snippers and singing, vibrating, battery-operated hampsters sitting side-by-side. Gift bags are also available, so no wrapping. I’ve been accused of doing most of my shopping on aisle 9 at CVS Pharmacy. That would be incorrect. Aisle 9 is the one with the incontinence products and I‘m not there yet. NOTE: Do NOT go to the Big Box Stores. The selection is overwhelming which leads to comparison shopping (see Rule #1) and we don‘t want to walk that much without a remote control, golf club, gun or fishing rod in our hands.

8. We look at our list and ask, “How many of these people might cross paths during the next year?” Gift recipients who don’t or won’t know each other are unlikely to compare gifts or givers. We can buy one type of gift (ex. candy) and give it to multiple recipients.

9. We know that at least every five years we can give the same type of gift to EVERYONE. For instance, everyone likes some type of book, cd or gift certificate. One visit to a media store and the job is done. The ultimate one gift is literally that, one gift for everyone on the list. If a man is willing to step up and send his gift list on a cruise it means one purchase and everyone is done.

10. Finally, men know sincerity is the key to true gift-giving. Once you can fake sincerity you’re home free… “I searched everywhere for this and it‘s JUST what I wanted you to have.” One man I know can give a shovel as a gift and have the recipient believe the search for the shovel ranged across continents, took decades, involved wise men and, therefore, is the best shovel on earth. A dissapointed recipient feels terrible by acting miffed.
The rest of us realize only a few people really matter to us. We spend 80 percent of our time on the 20 percent of the people on our list whom we truly love. We’ll do whatever it takes to see them smile at the holidays…even go shopping.



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