The I Hate to Shop Guide to making the season bright

It’s true. I really do hate to shop. But Noel Night – Telluride’s annual kick-off to the holiday season – actually makes shopping fun.

This Wednesday, December 5, is the big night. It’s a huge boon to local retailers and a lively, social evening studded with terrific merchandise and great deals in Telluride’s diverse array of shops. Colorado Avenue  and all the stores lining Main Street are decked out in delightful, twinkling displays of lights. Even reluctant shoppers like me are cheered by the splendor of it all.

If you share my dread of fighting crowds for the best sales, trying to wend your way through narrow aisles while bundled in a bulky winter coat and abhor waiting in long jittery lines with sugared-up kids waiting to see Santa, this is for you.

Through the years, I’ve learned a few things that have enhanced a ritual I once found totally stress-inducing.

The first and most important detail to maximize your enjoyment and make your store prowling more efficient – and perhaps leave some time for an adult beverage at night’s end – is to have a list. If you have a plan, you are ahead of the game. Stick to it as best you can and you won’t find as many budget-busting impulse buys in your shopping bags.

Do your research. Peruse the local newspapers. Many stores advertise. From socks to wine to tools, from books to guitars to sauté pans, chances are, what you’re looking for is right here in Telluride. Plot your course and you’ll have more fun.

If at all possible, shop during the day, or at least knock a couple items off your list before the sun goes down. Some merchants even offer enhanced deals for people who shop early. The crush from 5 p.m. on can be overwhelming. Avoid it if you can, unless you don’t mind shoulder-to-shoulder crowds.

Of course, you snack-and-shop experts know all the good food is served in the evening. If you’re looking to graze the complimentary nibbles found in many of Telluride’s retail shops on Noel Night, winning the hunger game will be more fun if you’ve already completed your shopping. That way, it’s like a progressive munchie party.

For those of you with little ones, again, early is best. Santa sits at U.S. Bank and Alpine Bank. Get your little ones psyched and ready to meet The Big Guy and then drop them off at the Nugget Theatre for one of three, free screenings of “Frankenweenie.” (PG, 4, 6 and 8 p.m.) That way, you’re free to shop without trying to moderate their toy- and cookie-crazed, frenetic excitement.

Note: Our good friends at the Nugget are not baby-sitters. Really young ones should be accompanied by a responsible older sibling, or another, trusted minder.

Remember to bring your own bags. Telluride is one of a few flagship municipalities in the U.S. that has banned the use of plastic bags. Support this effort by toting your own totes. It just plain old feels good.

If you don’t eat your way from store to store, you’ll work up an appetite. Chances are, you won’t feel like cooking, though. Make a reservation at your favorite restaurant (if they accept them). Otherwise, prepare for long waits, as everyone around you will have the same idea.

Noel Night is intense, especially if you have a big list. Be gracious, patient and cheerful. Many stores offer grab bag discounts or other clever ways of discounting your purchase at the counter. Yours truly has been shocked to hear customers lament a lower percentage discount drawn from the bag, or worse, the tongue-lashing a clerk received after a female shopper who learned that she could not keep shopping after she was lucky enough to draw 50 percent off her purchase. Be nice. ‘Tis the season, right?

Don’t forget shops off the main drag. Avoid the crowds and wander a block or two off Colorado Avenue and dig the elbowroom.

And if you really just can’t deal with the hurly-burly of Noel Night, the Telluride Arts Holiday Bazaar is this weekend, Friday-Sunday, December 7-9 at Telluride High School. Locally made creations make for unique gifts and support our thriving artists’ community.

Enjoy the non-commercial aspect of this happy evening. A tree-lighting ceremony, carolers, and the fellowship of our close-knit community are among the delights you’ll find on Noel Night in Telluride.

New this year is the Holiday Prelude, which ties together holiday events in Mountain Village and Telluride throughout December. Ice-skating in Mountain Village, as well its own version of Noel Night, “Jingle Jam,” an old-fashioned celebration at the historic Schmid Ranch, theater, and concerts, especially the Telluride Choral Society’s Wintersing performances, and much more, conspire to make this a wonderful holiday season.

I hope my words help you to de-Scrooge your attitude!

And here’s a list of links to help get you into the joy of the season.

(Ho, ho, ho!)

Wintersing concert info: www.telluridechoralsociety.org

Mountain Village events: www.townofmountainvillage.com/calendar

Sheridan Opera House events: www.sheridanoperahouse.com

Schmid Ranch/Telluride Historical Museum events: www.telluridemuseum.org

Holiday Prelude info: www.visittelluride.com

Telluride Arts Holiday Bazaar: www.telluridearts.org

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