COLM O'REGAN: Here's what will happen as you try to finish your Christmas shopping this week

Colm O’Regan helps shoppers with some handy tips for Christmas

WHEN it comes to buying presents this week, just be mindful of the 80-20 rule. The 80-20 rule applies to buying done from now on, ie 80% of available thoughtfulness, energy, and time is spent buying the first present on the list. Then you realise what’s left to be done and it all starts to get compressed into shorter and shorter decision-making processes and by the end, everyone’s getting vouchers.

This is not a present-buying guide. I would never be so presumptuous as to tell you what to buy — yet, skip to the very end for that — but I will tell you what is likely to happen this week. And forewarned is forearmed, sometimes (though I am not encouraging you to employ a stiff forearm across the collarbone of a fellow shopper as you both spot A Thing That’s In). Speaking of which, these are the different types of presents you will be buying.

The thing that’s in, 1: Every year, there’s a thing. Last year it was Paw Patrol. Hydrocarbons put into moulds to resemble the characters from a glossy Canadian cartoon where dogs solve problems and apparently never need to go to the toilet. Along with the Alberta tar sands, it’s one of the worst things Canada has done to the planet.

The year before it was an Elsa doll. This year it’s Hatchimals. Despite the Ballyfermot girl on the Late Late Toy Show who told the nation they weren’t worth the money, we didn’t listen and the things are sold out world-wide. Along with Mommy-Wars and Stranger Danger, the Thing That’s In is just the military-industrial complex’s little way of making parents unhappy.

The thing that’s in, 2: The thing that’s in also applies to adults: The Secret, Mindfulness, Hygge — they all have their moment in the snow. You have that special person in your life who takes their cue verbatim from articles that say “X things you have to get this Christmas”, picks the thing that costs less than €30 and gives it to you. But do act surprised.

Improving presents: I spoke about this last year but just a quick recap. These are presents which are a way of crystallising a year’s nagging into a passive aggressive gift to get your loved one to better themselves — or batter themselves, if it’s a fitness- related product.

Goats: Ok not just goats, but bees, worms, calves, and camels. Charity presents are an antidote to the waste that can go on at Christmas. Be careful though. Make sure you are confident your gift will be well received. It may be prudent to have a back-up present ready underneath the cushion.

Angry presents: Approaching the end of this week, spot the angry shoppers. These are people who are already furious with the person for whom they are buying, for their difficult-to-buy-for characteristics. You’ll hear: “Ah he won’t like that/ that’s not his scene/he won’t know what it’s for” in the next aisle.

Meanwhile at home, the poor male is blissfully unaware how much fury he is sparking, possibly thinking to himself how quiet the lead-up to Christmas is this year. “The wife does all the shopping. I think she likes it.”

Last-metre presents: These are not just last-minute presents in terms of time, they are last-minute in terms of space. These are the presents that you pick up in the check-out queue of the shop where you were 80-20-ruling until you looked at your watch.

These include small funny books with good covers that can be read in five minutes or box-sets that you think they might like and (see angry presents) “anyway it’ll have to do him, he’s so bleddy hard to buy for.” Speaking of which… (wink)

  • Colm O’Regan’s fourth book, Bolloxology, is available in all good bookshops, often located quite near the queue for the checkout.

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