11/20/2013 05:18 EST | Updated 01/25/2014 04:01 EST

Sticky Situation: 10 Guidelines for Shopping Harmony

Sticky Situation:

Have you counted them? There are five shopping weekends left before Christmas.

I bet that your heart is now pumping a little quicker.

Increased blood pressure means stress. Stress diminishes patience. It may even reduce common sense, could completely violate basic civil codes and present you with Sticky Situations.

Whether you shop online or line up at the register; when the associate informs you that Big Hugs Elmo is back ordered, until December 26, you may find yourself ready to fight for that last Muppet, for your sweet five-year-old niece. Stop right now. Rewind. Put yourself in a good place. I know, easier said than done, but do-able with these 10 guidelines.


1. Make your list and check it twice; once with your heart and once with your wallet.

Prioritize with love and goodwill while respecting your budget. Whether on a piece of paper, or on your phone's Wunderlist, stick to it. In times of stress look at your list and remind yourself of the joy that you will bring.

2. Do a reality check, before and during your shopping.

Having worked in retail as a store and human resources manager for The Body Shop, The Disney Store and Laura Canada, I can assure you that all retailers want you to have Big Hugs Elmo, before Christmas. And being the auntie to a sweet niece, I understand you wanting to be the one to make her Christmas wish come true. We all do. Everyone: the employee, that guy, who unknowingly took the very last one and you; all want to make this the best Christmas ever. We are all in this hustle and bustle together.

3. Choose your shopping attire and companions wisely.

Dress for comfort, ease and productivity. Wear layers. If travelling by car, leave bulky wear in the car. Minimize and balance the load by putting all purchases in one or two bags. Use lockers when available. Make sure that your shopping partners are in synch with you. Set the expectations ahead.

4. Spread good cheer.

Start your shopping with a smile. Don't feel like it? Fake it until you make it. It works. Put on your favourite Christmas tunes in your ear buds and your favorite 'Ugly Chrismas sweater' on your back. Action!

  • Let the Mommy with the three kids, in the backseat of her van, take that parking spot.
  • Wave and thank the parking attendant.
  • Line up a few loose carts on your way in.
  • Open the door for the man carrying a big box.
  • Let the woman with the hurried look on her face go ahead of you.
  • Leave a 'Happy Holidays' note on a seat or counter.
  • Pay forward a coffee for the next person in line. Refold the sweaters that you just unfolded.
  • Ask the phone, or virtual chat, attendant how his day is going.

Soon you will be happy and enjoying connecting with others during what is supposed to be the most magical time of the year.

5. Use please, thank you and you are welcome as your shopping hymn.

For every purchase, let every syllable of these magic words resonate with you, like a mantra, to ground you back to reality, #2.

6. Don't cut in line and don't linger.

Wait for your turn and prepare for payment. End your cell phone conversation or place the caller on hold. When your phone rings and you are interacting with a service associate, let your voicemail answer.

7. The check out process is not the time for a selfie, tweeting, tagging, texting or pining.

8. Have a complaint? Do it right.

Be polite and have realistic expectations. Share your dissatisfaction discreetly and objectively by stating facts. When needed, make a reasonable compensation request. On the flip side and, in the spirit of #3, take the time to thank and mention good service.

9. Treat yourself.

Stop for your favourite treat like a @StarbucksCanada Egg Nog latte.

10. Work in retail? Post and share this blog.

Have other shopping tips for holiday harmony? Please comment this blog to enlighten other readers.

Well, I guess I better get started on making my own list. See you at the mall! I'll be the one in the ugly Christmas sweater.

Have a holiday Sticky Situation at work or home yourself? This is your forum and your chance to enlighten others just like you. Write to Julie and she will reply promptly. Want more Solutions to Sticky Situations? Like her fan page on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter or read Etiquette: Confidence & Credibility, now available for pre-order. Planning a conference? Customised business etiquette activities are available.


Stylish Gifts For The Women In Your Life