Because of shipping delays, Christmas 2021 is going to see more shoppers in the stores even with online shopping continuing to rise. With busy stores and fewer gifts to go around this year, now more than ever, we all need to bring our good manners with us when we shop! The etiquette of Christmas shopping — it sounds like it might not even be a real thing! Yet it is, and knowing the manners of holiday shopping can help turn what is sometimes a hectic, stressful mess into a wonderful part of your Christmas!
The etiquette of Christmas shopping — it sounds like it might not even be a real thing! Yet it is, and knowing the manners of holiday shopping can help turn what is sometimes a hectic, stressful mess into a wonderful part of your Christmas!
Shopping for gifts is part of the celebration of Christmas. Whether you’re at the big-box store, the mall, or a neighborhood boutique, the way we interact with our fellow shoppers and the store associates is no less a part of the celebrating than going to a Christmas party at your neighbor’s house or a church service. And we need to be equally gracious wherever we are.
We need, perhaps, a new perspective on shopping.
If you celebrate Christmas (Christ with us) and not just a winter gift-giving holiday, while shopping, you’re buying the gifts you’ll give to special people in your life to symbolize the act of the three wise men giving gifts to young Jesus.
When you open the door to the store, remember that this too is Christmas!
The Etiquette of Christmas Shopping — Manners to Make Your Gift Finding Merry and Bright
1. Hold The Door Open for Others
Whether you’re a man or a woman, hold the door open for the person(s) behind you, and stand behind it to allow them plenty of room to enter. As they walk through the door: smile, make eye contact, and say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.”
If people hold the door for you aknowledge their courtesy. Say something like, “You’re so kind! Thank you!” Or, “Thank you! Merry Christmas!”
Saying “You’re so kind!” as well as “Thank you!” is adding a compliment. And every compliment is a gift. They will especially appreciate you, even though they won’t be able to put their fingers on exactly how you just put some extra Christmas magic in their day!
If the person(s) approaching the door ahead of you are pushing a baby stroller, in a wheelchair, on crutches, or have their arms full, say, “Allow me to get the door!” They’ll probably step a little to the side of the door so you can open it wide, and they can easily enter the store.
You’ll find more about the etiquette of opening doors for others including what to do when people seem to be marching though like you’re the doorman in this post on The Modern Etiquette of Opening and Holding Doors.
2. Keep to Your Right in Aisles
With all the extra people in the aisles and walkways of the store or mall, make sure to walk to your right. Just like the rules of the road, we walk on the same side that we drive on in the U.S.
If there are more than two or three in your group, try to walk behind one another. When three or more people walk side-by-side, the aisle gets blocked, and people can’t easily pass on their left. (Again, the same rules as for driving.)
On escalators stand to the right to allow those who are going to walk up the escalator to do so on your left.
Grace Note: Please don’t walk up the escalator. Escalators really are meant for riding.
As far as elevators, they can get really crowded. Here’s a post I wrote about elevator etiquette that will have you going up and down in style!
3. Offer An Apology If You Accidently Bump Into Someone
If you accidentally step in front of someone while looking at something on a store shelf or bump into someone, say something that clarifies it was accidental. Something like, “Please excuse me. I didn’t mean to bump into you.”
Grace Note: For bonus points, apologize to the other person even if they bumped into YOU and didn’t apologize. It’s a great example for the other person in how to be gracious.
4. Bring Out Everything You Took Into the Fitting Room
With parties, special events, and just wanting to treat ourselves, people buy more clothes for themselves in December than any other month. That means there’s a lot of clothes being carried into fitting rooms. What you don’t plan to buy should come out of the fitting room when you leave it. Floor staff is stretched thin when a store is busy. It’s gracious to not leave anything that someone else is going to have to clean.
5. Have Your Form of Payment Ready In Advance
To help keep the lines moving quickly, have your form of payment in hand prior to the cashier hitting the total button on your order. Searching through a pocket book or wallet for your debit or credit card takes time, so begin taking out your form of payment as soon as you place your last item on the counter.
6. If Something Rings Up Incorrectly, Go to Customer Service and Not the Cashier to Fix the Situation
If a sale price was missed or an item was misrung, and you discover after your sale is complete and you’ve left the line, go to customer service for the situation to be fixed. Most rerings of an item require a manager’s approval, and managers are usually stationed at customer service. It will be faster for you than standing in the cashier’s lane again and then having to wait for a manager to come to the lane to key in an approval code.
7. Extend the Gift of Grace to Store Associates
Be patient with store associates. The number of sales associates in a store increases by up to 35 percent from November 15 to January 10. Keep in mind that you’re probably not dealing with someone who is inept. You’re dealing with someone who is new to the job!
You remember what it’s like first starting a job. It’s scary, and no one is an expert in the first few weeks of work.
Holiday hires have to do their job daily in front of hundreds and hundreds of people in a busy store. They don’t have time to learn all the details of the merchandise in the store or all the how-tos of ringing the register before the rush of holiday shopping starts, so be patient.
They really do want to help you and to ring your order up correctly and quickly. Sometimes, the newness of it all makes it difficult.
8. Saying Please and Thank you Help Spread the Wonder of Christmas
Words and phrases like Please, Thank you, You’re welcome, My pleasure, Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays work wonders because they humanize our transactions with one another. The more we say them, the more we’ll enjoy the benefits of saying them. Use them liberally because when you do you’re giving others free gifts of grace, acknowledgement, and kindness.
In my book Manners That Matter for Moms, I wrote a chapter titled “Wonder Words and The Wonders They Work.” In it, I share how to teach your child the meaning and benefit of kind words that makes other-centered language an authenthic part of the way they talk.
I start the chapter by telling the story of an experiment I tried one Christmas to see what impact, if any, kind words I said had on the actions or attitudes of strangers.
My Soical Experiment in Using Kind Words While Shopping
In the stores where I was shopping, I noticed that even when the cashiers and clerks greeted a customer kindly, they often were ignored because the customer was talking on a cell phone. Even when not on the phone, the customer often gave just a sterile “Hey” or a dismissive “Make sure all my sale prices ring up.” to the cashier or store staff member.
In my social experiment I enjoyed a conversation with the cashier as my order was being rung. As the cashier handed me my recipt or as I took it from the register’s card reader, I said something to the clerk that the next customer would overhear. It was always along the lines of: “You’ve been so kind! Thank you for ringing my purchases. It’s been great talking to you, and I hope everyone is as kind to you as you’ve been to me. Thanks again, and Merry Christmas!”
Did My Kindness Cause Others to Repeat the Kindness
The results were stunning! 100 percent of the time I spoke kindly about and thanked the cashier, no matter how tuned-out the next customers had been, they smiled and began a conversation with the person behind the register. People on their cell phones at least acknowledged the clerk pleasantly. Two cell-phone users even ended their conversations. “I’ll call you back. I’m at the register now.” They then started kindly talking to the cashier.
Overhearing the appreciation I shared with the cashier set the next customer up as eager to experience a similar positive interaction. I saw demeanors do a 180-degree turn. It was beautiful to watch.
Attitudes, moods, and expectations are contagious, and if we speak kindness, we generate kindness. It’s one of the best gifts we can give at Christmas or any time.
Going to a Christmas party or event this season? Check out The Top 5 Party Conversation Do’s ! And if you want to strike up a conversation with someone anywhere, here’s How to Start a Great Conversation — The 7 Best Tips.
Until next time, keep doing what you were put on Earth to do — bless others by being authentically you…at your best! Oh, and happy shopping too!