This Year's Guide of How to Get Through Holiday Shopping, Untouched --Part 1


Last year, I brought you the first installment of what I hope will be an annual guide on how to make it through the holiday shopping season with as little bruising or as few cuts and scrapes as possible -- or untouched -- as I put it. Think of it as the Farmer's Almanac of keeping your space while you trudge through parking lots and their god damn satellite lots full of holiday shoppers.

This year, we weren't an hour into Black Friday sales when we were yet again given the gift that keeps on giving -- which is the good ole' American doing what the American does best, chasing down 60" televisions for $200 or discount lingerie offered at "rock bottom" prices, which I'm not completely okay with getting my girlfriend lingerie that's in the "rock bottom" price category. "Rock Bottom" tells me that they're of the "vintage" quality. And when I say vintage, what I really mean is soiled.

Since we're on the subject, what is with America's obsession with big screen televisions? You never see these fights at a Barnes & Noble. Never. Could you imagine these people jumping over display cases for a John Grisham anthology? I can't. Words are good. The Good Wife on a 50" plasma-HD-3D-LCD-HOMSAT T.V. is bad.

Nevertheless. We're here. And we'll always be here. With a few more weeks to go in the shopping season, I am yet again, your source for staying safe, staying out of jail, while you're out there vulnerable shopping. And if you're thinking, "Chris... this is ridiculous, I don't need a guide on how to stay safe while Christmas shopping." My answer to that is, lol.

You can read last year's post, here. Of course, I highly recommend it.

But let us get to this year's guide: the revised, the updated, the ultimate manual on how to avoid getting touched, caressed, bumped, groped, shoved, tripped, smacked, kicked, whatever, while you shop for that perfect gift for that imperfect person. I'll be getting you through four more stores, doing two in part one, and the other two in part two. Personally, I find this guide to be as valuable as that SAT prep book that you're now using as a yoga block.

Let us begin with the first two stops on your list.

At Yankee Candle:

I don't know why, but for some reason people think you want, need or crave pumpkin cheesecake-scented candles. Which doesn't sound all that bad when you first think about it -- wait... it does sound that bad. Sounds horrible, in fact. Because there's nothing like setting the mood with your girl or guy and getting a waft of cheesecake.

Buying someone a scented candle is the life equivalent of giving up. The following should never enter someone's thought process:

"Oh... I can't think of what to get Chris. How about a "Dream by the Fire" candle?"

Which sounds dangerous because you should never leave a fire burning, even when dreaming...

Now, you need to be careful whenever you're in a store that has an infinite number of potentially deadly weapons -- the candles I'm talking about. Each candle weighs, what, 13 pounds? Which sucks when you're given this as a gift, because you're thinking, "Damn, what did you get me? Oh... Oh, right. Ya, we saw this in the store window that time we were going to visit your grandmother in hospice. Very cool. Ya. No. Thanks."

The only fair to good chance of not being touched is to either go to Yankee Candle right as the girl who works there lifts up that metal gate when the mall opens or five minutes before the store closes. I'm telling you, walk by any Yankee Candle and it is packed with people. I think they do close to a hundred percent of their sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This year's hot scents are Pine Wood Memories, Dry Cleaned Chambray and School Bus Leather.

Chances of physical contact: High, depending on when you go. Two percent at open. Nine percent just before close. Eighty-four percent during any other time.

At Brookstone:

Dads love Brookstone. LOVE. It's that forever-wanting-but-never-having combination of a man cave. Every cool gadget under the sun that they've always wanted but would never really use past two weeks. Like the massage chair, portable massager, hand massager, car massager -- I feel like Brookstone only sells massagers.

Brookstone is hit or miss with regard to being bumped into while shopping. In my opinion this is truly a "get there at open or just before close" situation. The reason is because every Brookstone store manager, for some reason, has decided to put every massage chair they have in stock up front, so as you walk into the store it's virtually impossible to not have to take a detour around the five largest men you've ever seen, just sitting. Sometimes I feel like I should put my fingers on their pulse, you know, check for activity. Odd, too, that somehow the chairs have already absorbed those familiar foul scents that should really be turned into a candle.

Brookstone is also almost always conveniently located half-way into the mall between the two pillars, Sears and Macy's. And that's not done by accident. It's intelligent design for malls. Brookstone is basically a pit stop for the men who have sciatica, knee replacements, whatever.

If you really need to get dad that pulsating beanbag eye-rest, then you will almost certainly be bumped into or touched. Aside from the fact that this is an item that could have been purchased online (you don't need to see the eye-rest because it's basically a sock full of soft, lumpy shit), you're likely to bump into one of those guys sleeping in the chairs or by the sales associate trying to hand the woman behind you a Posture-Pedic down pillow with built-in headrest (that you can also freeze), because she's in a rush and can't wait. She needs to go to Yankee Candle Outlet after this.

Chances of physical contact: 75 percent if between the hours of 10AM and 7PM, but falls to 11 percent if within one hour of open or close.

Tune in for Part 2 when I take you shopping at Kohls and Target.

Chris is a freelance writer from Boston. Follow him @chrishpeak or visit him at