My Christmas Shopping Survival Guide

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This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 20th December 2011.

I’ve had some very reliable information that Christmas is coming soon. Apparently, tradition dictates that you purchase gifts for everyone you know. To avoid meltdown, follow my thirteen simple instructions to survive the silly season.

  1. There’s nothing wrong with gift vouchers. If you have concerns that the recipient will know how much you spent on them, leave the price tags on all your other gifts so no-one feels left out.
  2. Your family and friends will love receiving gift vouchers for specialty stores in towns hundreds of kilometres away. Not only do they get to choose their own present, they get to have a holiday too.
  3. Avoid the temptation of singing along with the in-store music in department stores. They’ve done their research and found that it causes excessive spending on lab rats. Take your own music. I recommend a little Lou Reed to keep your Christmas generosity away.
  4. Don’t agonise on choosing presents that perfectly match the likes and interests of the recipient. Just buy them anything. That’s what your loved ones have done for you. How else do you explain the Jack Vidgen and Susan Boyle CDs you’ll get this year?
  5. A great choice for a present is a mobile phone. Nothing says I love you like a monthly financial burden for the next two years.
  6. Got a geek in your life? Pick up the Star Wars blu-ray collection for them. The high definition transfer is so detailed that the once magical alien worlds, characters and spaceships are reduced to what they really were: cheap sets, costumes and plastic models. You’ll spoil Star Wars for them and they’ll be a more interesting person for it afterwards.
  7. Don’t get upset that the shop clerk is slowly talking you through using the EFTPOS machine, even though you’ve already used one twenty times today already. With the stress of Christmas, you probably look a little tired, plus you’ve just tried to pay for your shopping with your Medicare card.
  8. Concerned about whether your friends and family might not share the winnings from the Scratchies you bought them? Try scratching them before you pop them in the card to avoid any potential conflicts.
  9. Do you have to buy a $10 Kris Kringle gift for someone at work you barely know? Postage stamps are a practical present that they probably won’t love but they definitely will use.

10. Trust me. No-one wants a digital photo frame for Christmas. They are this year’s equivalent of underwear and socks.

11. Buy your loved one two tickets to a concert that you really want to see and they are so-so about. You are almost guaranteed that they will take you, plus they’ll probably drive you too.

12. Glee is so last year. By purchasing one of their two hundred soundtrack CDs, you are supporting them to destroy popular music, one song at a time.

13. A pet is for life, not just for Christmas. Don’t buy anyone an animal, unless it is honey glazed or slow roasted.

On behalf of me, myself and Irene, have a satisfactory Christmas and eat cherries until you puke. I’ll be back next week with the best films and TV of the year.

Published in: on December 20, 2011 at 09:07  Leave a Comment  
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The Joys of Christmas

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 7th December 2010.

Don’t you just love December? Who doesn’t look forward to the warm dry summer weather, cicadas buzzing from every tree, cherries for sale on street corners and Australia dominating at the cricket? OK, so only the cicadas have eventuated this year so far but December also brings with it several other seasonal traditions, all of which I could definitely live without, namely bad television, Christmas music and movies.

Last year I wrote about some of the worst Christmas albums ever. They truly are a money grabbing exercise from our friends at the multinational record companies. What is the point of an album that is only useful for a few weeks a year? You know that it is all about the money when Kate Cerebrano releases a Christmas album. I didn’t realise that Scientologists celebrated Christmas. Maybe Xenu and Jesus have the same birthday.

There’s nothing that inspires me more when I’m doing my compulsory Christmas present shopping than some upbeat festive tunes piped into the shops. That is, inspires me to rip all of my hair out and stick hatpins into my ears. There are Christmas decorations everywhere. Santa hats and stupid t-shirts abound to reinforce the fact that it is Christmas. I do not need Mariah Carey screeching her way through All I Want for Christmas Is You to remind me that it is December.

How do retail staff stay sane with Christmas tunes on constant rotation all day? Surely this breaches occupational health and safety regulations? It must be even worst with those elf ears on. Imagine hearing Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmastime all day through gigantic super sensitive ears. I’d certainly frequent a shopping centre that uses the marketing ploy of “We know it’s Christmas, so do you, let’s not speak of it again, carry on as usual.”

December is also the time when the TV ratings people take some time off, leaving us to watch repeats, “summer editions” and all those shows that were axed after a couple of episodes in the US. Thank goodness for pay TV. How else would I get my fix of umpteen episodes of The Simpsons each day? Actually, the festive break is a good time to break out the DVD box sets and catch up on all of those shows I didn’t have time to watch during the year.

It is such a shame that the Cops LAC box set has been indefinitely postponed, due to lack of interest. I was really looking forward to reliving Kate Ritchie trying to be a hardnosed cop. Actually, I was looking forward to reliving Kate Ritchie trying to act. Poor Kate, even the Brady Bunch Variety Hour got a DVD release!

Christmas movies are another December inevitability. Personally, I like to watch movies to escape from reality. When I’m panicking about shopping, cooking and seeing my family, the last thing I want to do is see a Christmas movie about people panicking about shopping, cooking and seeing their families.

I’ve made a list and checked it twice. These Christmas movies are terrible.

1. Jingle All The Way (1996): Arnie struggles to find a Turboman doll for his son, and with the English language.

2. The Santa Clause 1, 2 and 3 (1994 – 2006): A trilogy? The Lord of the Rings and old school Star Wars deserve to be called trilogies. This should be known as a “we-accidentally-made-three-of-them-ogy.”

3. Christmas with the Kranks (2004): What is it about Tim Allen and bad Christmas movies? Unbelievably, this was written by John Grisham. Yes, that John Grisham.

So this December, bring on the warm weather. Actually, forget the heat. I just want it to stop raining. You’ll find me away from the shopping centre and television, enjoying the sun with my friends, being deafened by cicadas and eating cherries until I puke. I love Christmas.

Published in: on December 19, 2010 at 20:12  Leave a Comment  
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