Approximately 10,000 years ago when I was at uni, I worked at a department store to make money which I immediately spent on frivolous things like pizza and lollies to fuel my midnight study sessions, and never spent on useful things like textbooks and paying off my student loans. As I was at the bottom of the food chain, I was the person assigned to work on Christmas Eve. Naturally, I loathed those people who blew into the store an hour before closing and tried to do all of their holiday shopping in the moments before security showed up to lock the doors. Until, that is, I became a parent. Now I do some of my shopping at the last minute on Christmas Eve, and let me tell you why: Boxing Day sales.
I am not the kind of person who gets up at the crack of dawn on Boxing Day to go shopping. (My husband is, and one year he bought a $400 rubbish bin because it was “super on sale, really, really on sale”, but that is another story I do not want to get into because it will make me upset.) I prefer to sleep in on Boxing Day and eat leftover Christmas trifle for breakfast. But on Christmas Eve, I will allow myself one single hour of last-minute shopping, which takes place approximately an hour before the mall closes. This is because an hour before closing, all of those retail workers like I once was are already preparing for the Boxing Day sales, and chances are they’ve put up the markdown signs so they don’t have to do it on Boxing Day morning.
I applaud their time-saving ways, and I appreciate the opportunity to get 50% off the Christmas pyjamas I want to dress my kids in on Christmas morning. I also appreciate not having to pay full price for Christmas crackers, because I prefer to buy the nice crackers with the paper crowns that actually don’t rip when you put them on, and I refuse to pay the big bucks for them. I also appreciate that discounted box of chocolate which I tell myself I’m going to give to someone as a gift but really, I just keep and eat myself.
But, in order to be as kind as possible to the hapless staff who are trying to save themselves some grief by putting up the Boxing Day discount signs early, I have some rules which I recommend you also follow should you wish to meet me at the mall and do a spot of Christmas Eve shopping.
1) Always, always be kind. It’s Christmas. They’re working because someone assigned them the crappy shifts and they would rather be home with their families. Tell them how much you appreciate them. Forgive them if they seem a bit harried or over it. They’ve been dealing with rude holiday shoppers for weeks and they need a break. Thank them PROFUSELY as you’re gathering your purchases. Seriously, you cannot be too nice.
2) Be organised. Go in with a plan and stick to it. It’s tempting to be sidetracked by things that are not on your list, but remember: You are on a mission. Pyjamas, crackers, chocolates are the three things I’m after. If I see something else AFTER I’m done with my list AND there’s still time, I may deviate from the plan. Or I may just take note and send my husband back on Boxing Day. Anyway, if you are a real nerd, like me, do a little recon mission earlier in the week and find out where in the store the items you want are located, so you can go straight there once you arrive and not waste anyone’s time.
3) Do not, under any circumstances, still be lingering in the store when the retail assistants are trying to close the doors. There are few things more irritating to a shop assistant than someone who decides it’s time to pay as the shop is closing, or someone who is still looking for what they need as the lights are being turned off. Get there, get your stuff, and get out. Don’t linger. Don’t make the workers despair, thinking they’ll never get out on time.
Enjoy your last-minute holiday shopping, and let me know if you find a particularly good bargain somewhere, so I can add it to my shopping list… For next year.