Duncan Barkes: Taking the stress out of Christmas shopping

MOST regular blokes will now be feeling irritable. The looming nightmare of needing to tackle the high street for festive gifts is enough to make a man hide in the loft with bottle of single malt.

A man who says he actually enjoys Christmas shopping is almost certainly lying.

But fear not, chaps! As someone who breaks out into a sweat at the mere thought of spending more than a few minutes in a Christmas crowd, I have some highly effective tips to make the trip to the high street bearable and relatively stress-free.

First off, the women in your life are easily catered for. It does not matter if it is a wife, daughter or mum.

Even the sternest of mother-in-laws will soften after you have made a quick visit to a department store with a floor dedicated to make-up and fragrance.

One needs to adopt a state of slightly bewildered helplessness and search for a shop assistant of more mature years.

Do not go for the younger ones – they will just think you are a bit of saddo.Find one with a kindly face and a cardigan – in my experience, they are the most helpful.

Explain you would be rather be in the pub, and then outline your budget and the ages of the females you need gifts for. They will then take you by the hand, treat you like a nine-year-old and arrange it all.

If you look at them with the kind of expression that is reminiscent of a small deer facing the barrel of a twelve-bore, they will also wrap the gifts and whack ribbons on.


Another easy gift is a restaurant voucher. The bonus of this trip is that you get lunch at the same time.

This is how I do it: book a table, turn up, order a glass of wine, explain how you want your steak cooked, order another glass of wine and, when requesting the bill, ask for the number of vouchers you need. This is stress-free shopping in its purest form, plus you get some decent scoff into the bargain.

Finally, there’s the Majestic wine warehouse. Everyone loves a decent bottle of vino.

Of course one always overestimates how many bottles are needed for gifts, thus leaving some spare for your own stash.

Christmas shopping doesn’t need to be an horrendous experience. Follow my top tips and you’ll be as chilled as a snowman and have time spare for a seasonal chunk of stilton and a glass of port. Chin chin!

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