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11 etiquette tips for Christmas shopping with kids.

Christmas shopping is hell. Even if the thought of it fills you with the Christmas spirit, the actual experience will turn you from a jolly little elf into the Grinch. The crowds. The queues. The lack of parking spaces. The empty shelves. The tantrums.

To make Christmas shopping more pleasant for everyone, here are a few etiquette tips. Most of them apply to shopping with kids generally, but they’re more important than ever in the pre-festive-season rush.

1. Don’t bring your sick kids shopping.

If they have snot pouring out of their noses, and they’re wiping it away with their hands, they’re not fit for contact with other humans – especially my kids in the shopping centre’s indoor playground. Nothing personal, but germs are one thing you really don’t need to share at Christmas.

2. Don’t line up for a Santa photo if your child doesn’t want to be in a photo with Santa.

It just forces everyone else to wait longer, especially if precious extra minutes have to be spent trying to convince your howling kid to cheer up. Also, you’re probably traumatising them for life.

If they have snot pouring out of their noses, and they're wiping it away with their hands, they're not fit for contact with other humans. Image via iStock.

3. Those $2 rides are for children whose parents are prepared to put in the $2.

If you're not willing to fork out, don't let your kid keep sitting on the ride when there are other parents waiting, coin in hand, to fulfill a promise to their weary children. And, if you're going pop your kid on a ride that someone else has paid for, at least ask first and say thank you afterwards.

4. Trying on clothes when you have kids with you is ambitious.

If you must, make sure your kids stay with you at all times. Underwear-clad women in other fitting rooms may not find your son's face peeking under their curtain as adorable as you do.

5. Understand that massive prams are really annoying to people without kids.

Especially when shopping centres are crowded. You are the equivalent of a large piece of farm machinery slowing traffic on the highway. Check at least occasionally to make sure you're not blocking people - in lifts, etc - and smile and say sorry if you are. If you're going down a walkway and bump into a friend, also pushing a pram, that's lovely. Now get out of the way.

Tantrums. Sometimes avoidable, sometimes not. Image via iStock.
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6. Don't let your kids play with stuff you have no intention of buying them.

Especially battery-operated stuff. Don't take a toy out of the packaging unless you're pretty certain you're going to buy it and need to check something - and then make sure you grab that toy, not another one. It is so annoying when there's only one of a particular toy left on the shelf, and it's broken or has bits missing.

7. Dropped snacks are a trip hazard, please pick them up.

Sure, give your kids a snack if they need one, but if they make a mess - throwing crackers or dripping ice cream - clean it up as you would at home. Obviously.

8. Try to avoid subjecting other people to your kids' tantrums.

Yeah, sometimes they can't be helped, but sometimes kids are just pushed beyond their limits by a shopping trip that has dragged on too long. Hearing a kid's tantrum go on and on and on is worse than having to listen to "The Little Drummer Boy" on repeat.

WATCH a video showing how unhappy kids can look when sitting on Santa's lap. Post continues after video...

9. Don't cause hold-ups at the toy store checkout when there's a huge queue.

Don't suddenly notice some small flaw on a toy and ask for a replacement. Don't grab a toy that has the tag and barcode missing, because it will not be able to be scanned. Have your card ready. Do not, under any circumstances, start a conversation with the checkout operator. Stuff the weather.

10. Don't let your kids do the scanning at the self-service checkout.

Even more so if there are people waiting behind you. Cute to you, annoying to everyone else.

11. Don't hold up the line in the car park.

In the car park, when there's a car waiting to pull into your space, and 17 cars stuck behind that car, please, at least look like you're trying to move quickly.

Obviously you're exhausted at this point, but the sight of someone rearranging things in their boot, then strolling off to put the trolley away, is unbearably irritating if you're not even going to get a park out of it. And, if it's at all possible, don't return to your car just to drop things off and then go back to shopping. It unnecessarily raises the hopes of frazzled drivers who have been searching for a park for 40 minutes.

What other Christmas shopping etiquette tips would you suggest?

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