Secrets for Christmas shopping success

By Tammy Keith Originally Published December 16, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated December 14, 2012 at 11:11 a.m.
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Don’t let anyone kid you — Christmas shopping is serious business.

I want to share with you some of my shopping-survival secrets.

Normally, you would have to take my six-week Shopping is Not for Sissies class, but I am feeling the generous Christmas spirit.

My first shopping experience was when I was about 3, when I went with Granddaddy to an Otasco and saw a doll I wanted and shouted it loudly and repeatedly.

I have refined my techniques after all these years.

First of all, you have to realize that any business is a potential shopping mecca. Malls are obvious — but don’t overlook smaller places like gas stations and airport and hospital gift shops. Sometimes they yield great finds. (For example, my family is getting some stocking stuffers courtesy of freebies at the Arkansas State Fair.)

Yes, yes, there is the Internet, and I also order online, but I’d rather put my hot little hands on the item, if possible.

When you’re dressing for a shopping marathon, go for comfort, not cuteness. I don’t care if they match your outfit or not; wear tennis shoes. Your feet will thank you in the morning. Dress in layers, and don’t wear a coat. Even if it’s 30 degrees outside, you will burn up with the body heat from the 5,000 other shoppers. Coats tend to expand in shopping carts like a marshmallow in a microwave.

Don’t take small children, or small husbands for that matter, unless they are expert shoppers, too.

Take snacks. Serious shopping means no stopping to eat. It’s precious time that could mean you leave empty-handed.

Before you leave home, use the phone. I love to shop over the phone. When I’m looking for a particular gift, I call around town first to see who has it in stock and the best price. Some stores will hold the item for you or let you charge it over the phone.

Speaking of a phone, the iPhone has rocked my shopping world.

I keep my Christmas lists on the Notes section, complete with style numbers, prices and sizes.

In the heat of the moment, you may forget what size underwear your husband wears.

The iPhone is great for taking pictures of questionable items. Put your immediate family on alert that you’re shopping and to be ready to “yea” or “nay” photos of things like the Hobbit-feet house shoes for Dad.

Look for coupons, and put them in your purse. If you don’t have one, ask when you check out. Sometimes the clerk can magically produce one.

Get there EARLY. You can sleep in January. Be nice. Make friends in line. They could make or break whether you get that last Xbox 360 game or whether you live to tell about it.

Be assertive, but not aggressive. Draping your body over an item is acceptable; karate kicks are frowned upon.

It seems obvious, but make friends with the salespeople. Smile. Tell them you know they’re overworked and underpaid and how much you appreciate their help, and you may just get that last Lalaloopsy doll in the storage room.

OK — one of my best-kept secrets, until now, is to check out in electronics. The other day, I walked right up to a counter in the video-game section of a store, checked out in about two minutes and waltzed by long lines at the front of the store.

“Smart woman,” a salesclerk said as I held up my bags and smiled.

If you see something for yourself, buy it. You deserve it after all this hard work.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or

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