If you've ever worked the Christmas rush in a retail position, you'll know how painful it can be. December means usually a full month of twelve hour shifts, difficult customers and terrible Christmas CDs on a loop. For all your friends working in retail this year, try putting together a retail survival kit that shows you sympathise with their pain instead of bombarding them with yet more tacky Christmas cheer.
So what do you put in it? An ideal survival kit for retail workers at Christmas would include some items to help them survive their actual shifts, some to make their life easier once they get home, and a few little luxuries to make the week bearable. If you've got a bit of time on your hands, why not drop your present over with a home-cooked meal and a bottle of wine to share after a long, difficult shift?
Christmas Retail Survival Kit
• Gum or mints
With little time to unwind, you can wind up feeling really gross during a week of retail work. A stick of gum or a tin of mints can be the perfect quick refresher on the go.
• Energy drink of choice
Sometimes something more is needed to keep you going during a particularly terrible shift, so a can of energy drink or two in your survival kit definitely won't go amiss. Choose your friend's favourite brand, or even splash out on a premium energy drink. If they're not a fan, include a tube of Berocca instead.
Customers can be a headache, and even if your friend doesn't need it, they'll be making new friends in the workplace just for having a stash of painkillers in their bag during a killer twelve hour shift.
• Stress ball
You can even get cute little ones shaped like Santa Claus -- so your friend can punish him for inflicting this Christmas hell on the world of retail.
It's impossible to find a pen in a retail store even at the best of times, let alone during the Christmas rush. Include a fun one, like this pen from ThinkGeek that has the USS Enterprise floating inside it.
• "How To Hack Your Retail Job" by Jennifer Bales
Even if your friend doesn't learn anything from this handy guide, they'll at least get the validation of having someone else admit that working retail is a terrible experience.
• Pampering products
Whether it's a nice pack of bath bombs, a face mask or a nice-smelling body lotion, include something that your friend can pamper themselves with after a long hard shift. Any of the deliciously handmade products from Lush come highly recommended.
• Jar candles
Lighting candles that smell like cinnamon and vanilla and caramel is one of the best ways to relax after dealing with angry Christmas shoppers, and goes hand in hand with the one above. The more wicks the better to spread that aromatherapy all around the room.
Everyone likes chocolate. My pick would be a selection of Lindt's dark chocolate bars -- enough to have a naughty row after work, but not enough to binge on to the point of regret.
• Gourmet tea blends
Something to go with the chocolate. You can't go wrong with T2's huge range of teas, though a special coffee blend may be preferable to those who don't enjoy tea.
• Alcohol of your choice
Lets face it, you can't survive retail without it. Make it something nice -- whether it's a quality Tasmanian Pinot, a specialty reserve cider, a naughty chocolate or butterscotch liqueur or just a nice bottle of bubbly to celebrate the end of the Christmas shopping season, your friend will thank you for it.