Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Shopping Tips from Sweden

I really dislike shopping. Which is strange, because I quite like giving presents, but the shopping part drives me nuts. And Christmas shopping is the worst. The throngs of people. The whining kids, pretending to be good for Santa, but really just whining. Plus, I’m cheap. Which makes the final part of the transaction in which I have to hand over my money especially rough.

But this weekend, “worst” took on a whole new meaning. Because I went to IKEA. On a Sunday. Eleven days before Christmas. One day after Santa Lucia. Which only serves to prove that I am, in fact, an idiot.

I ventured to IKEA for a couple of different things. Some food products, some candles, some Christmas decorations, and I was in search of a specific present. I had a plan. I know the layout. I know how to avoid following the IKEA path so I can get to where I need to be. I was prepared. I thought.

I was wrong. Nothing could prepare me for the carnage I saw. A kid pouting on one of the beds. Not a parent in sight. Two other kids chasing each other around. The screams of children mixed with the groans of parents as everyone questioned the necessity of procreation. Which was all topped off by an IKEA employee trying to sign me up for the IKEA Family card. All I could think was what good birth control a weekend holiday shopping trip to IKEA is. A family was far from mind.

It was exhausting. I could have turned back. But I fought through. Money to spend. I needed to do my part to get Sweden out of the recession. I made it past the bedrooms. The kitchens. To the knick knacks. This is where the dishes start, the candles, the picture frames. All the small things that IKEA sells can be found on the bottom floor. This is where my plan would be best used.

But it had been a while since I had ventured into IKEA alone. And they had changed the layout. Those bastards. Suddenly, amidst the chaos of running children, frazzled parents, young lovers, and old Swedes, I was overcome by one single thought. Recession my ass. It passed, but seriously, there was a whole lot of money flying through the registers at that place.

I gathered myself, reminded myself that IKEA was cheap and so might make it through a recession with flying colors, and continued on. I still knew a couple of shortcuts. I was going to have to take a chance. So I snuck off to the left and slid through a door to pop out in the picture frame section. I had saved myself a lot of grief. And I was close to where I needed to be.

I sharpened my elbows and did my best impression of Ali in his prime. I was shucking and jiving if you will. I was floating like a butterfly. I was the greatest. Obviously. Finally I emerged unscathed, albeit a bit sweaty, not unlike the champ after the Rumble in the Jungle.

In the end, I didn’t do much in getting Sweden out of its recession. The only thing I ended up walking out of IKEA with was a few Christmas decorations and the food. The candles? The present? Nowhere in sight. So I stumbled out toward the hotdog stand. I had earned my two korvs for 10 SEK. And they were amazing.

I titled this post Shopping Tips from Sweden. Really it should be shopping tip. And the tip is a simple one: never go to IKEA on a weekend so close to Christmas. Ever.

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  1. reflect on the Kwanzaa celebration's(dec 26 to jan 2) concept of Kuumba: we do what we can to make our community beautiful. a thought that goes a long way.

  2. Good for you, man! any "man" out there who likes shopping is a pussy

  3. Great blog man. I'm happy I've randomly found this page somehow, I'll continue to check it. After my 5 days in Stockholm/Solna this summer I was really fascinated by the swedish world and I wanna come maybe in the future your tips and stories will be helpful :)

    Greetings from Italy
    ps:Christmas shopping at Ikea sucks at every latitude, I understand you (here it sucks even on normal sundays hehe)

  4. I know the IKEAs outside Sweden have a "Swede Shop" with lingonberry jam and pickled herring, but what kind of food would you buy in a domestic one???

    BTW you need to find more shortcuts through that place, it saves lots of trouble...

  5. @anonymous - just change holidays to avoid shopping. an interesting idea.

    @jd - fair enough

    @stefano - glad youve been enjoying the blog. and glad to hear that shopping at ikea is rough no matter where you are. well maybe not glad in the normal sense, but glad that Im not alone.

    @eklandisk - well, when I say food, really I mean candy. because ikea has these glorious travel packs, if you will, of delicious swedish candy. and since I was already headed over there, i snagged some. because youre right, otherwise a trip to ikea in sweden for food just cant offer much more than any other grocery store down the street.

    I think Ive got the shortcuts down again now. the whole changing the layout of the store really threw me off. I felt betrayed by ikea. by ingvar himself.

  6. I wonder why they call the IKEA at Kungenskurva the world's biggest IKEA. The one in Barkarby, Stockholm is bigger. And the one in Espoo, Finland, is even bigger. I guess there are much bigger IKEAs around the world, so why lie about it?

    You're right, IKEA is no place for a man. Don't look at just the price - look at the quality too.

  7. I grew up in America too and find myself still thinking i am helping the economy when i go shopping, no matter what i buy. Isn't it a funny thing how we were programmed?

  8. @smek - I didnt even know they claimed it to be the biggest,

    all I know is that its too big for me.

    @anonymous - come on now. apparently you missed the part where I said I like giving away presents. you know, in the second sentence of the post.

    @anonymous - I blame John Maynard Keynes.

  9. If you must, visit the Barkarby IKEA instead. It's not that bad there. You can go there by SL buses.

  10. SMEK THIS!
    they are not lying. Kungenskurva IS the world biggest IKEA, in terms of total space, inclduing car parks, warehouse and so on.

  11. Ok, I believe you, Anonymous. That leaves only one option left: it has a bad architecture, because it FEELS like smaller.

    BTW, these word verifications have become funnier lately. Now I have to verify 'ouccitt' :)

  12. @smek - Ive never been to that one actually. I might have to check it out next time.

    @anonymous - good work. I feel honored to have shopped in the worlds largest ikea.

    @smek - maybe that means its good architecture. it feels small and home-y.