We walked in ready to pounce, coupons blazing.

Only to find a thousand other women — and maybe one man — whose coupons were also blazing but who proceeded to politely navigate around each other for the next 45 minutes, because blazing or not, there is such thing as basic decorum and decency in shopping.

It’s not like we would have pushed anyone out of the way to get to the egg nog candy corn.

Unless we absolutely had to.

Christmas Tree Shops is a trifecta of sorts for Bliss. It’s a place We Normally Wouldn’t Go. A place to find That Decoration To Put On Your Table When Nothing Seasonal Seems Appropriate. And, a Place That Makes Mr. Bag Lady’s Skin Crawl.

Bag Lady and a best bud left the husbands at home last Sunday to hit the Christmas Tree Shops in Augusta for research and stocking-stuffers. For those who’ve never been and managed to avoid the TV ads and the circulars, the whole store is a mix of goods that smell nice, discounted stock and sometimes funky toys and housewares.

It’s also liberal with its online coupons (the current one is spend $50, save $10) so print before you go. While last weekend’s pre-Christmas frenzy did have us circling the lot a few times to find a parking space, the lines at the register moved pretty swiftly.

So, leave the men at home, grab a cart and let’s dart from bargain to bargain together.

• Decorative pillow set, 3-piece, $9.99
One oblong with fringe and two square, all chocolate-colored with chocolate polka dots. So cute you could eat them up.

• Barbie styling head with 10 accessories, $9.99
Who knew they were still making these? Bag Lady always wanted one as a kid. That and a pony. Never got either. Wait, the bitterness is creeping back … Will try to ward it off with:

• Zachary’s Egg Nog Candy Corn, 16 oz., $2.29
Yellow, brown and white triangles of holiday goodness — another who knew? Shopping Siren called the color palette unfortunate and I can think of no better word.

For the semi-traditionalist:

• Zachary’s Candy Cane Candy Corn, 10 oz., $1.79
Cherry red and white stripes. Less offensive. Um, at least to the eye.

• T.G.I. Friday’s mozzarella stick chips, 4 oz., $1.79
Zero trans fat! As for calories … hey, did I mention zero trans fat?

• Leather luggage tag holder, $1.69/2 for $3
Silver or pink skulls, football shapes, a gorilla or playful flip-flops. Make your bag stand out in the crowd.

• Starbucks coffee and ceramic mug set, $3.99
Comes in its own cardboard house — instantly gift-worthy.

• Bam! Emeril BBQ sauce, 18 oz., $2.29
Includes flavor options of Kicked Up and Sweet’n Easy Molasses. Emeril is a daytime TV chef enigma. Zero sex appeal yet exceedingly popular. How’d that happen? Discuss among yourselves.

• Satin striped elf stocking, $3.99
Multicolored or in red and white with a curled elf toe and ribbon fringe around the top. Perfect for that last-minute what’s-his-face your sister is bringing home from college. The one in the emo band.

Best find: Trivial Pursuit Chocolate Edition, $3.99
Mm, the sweet taste of victory. Get the questions right, win the square of chocolate.

Think twice: Decorative chair sleeves with bows, $2.99
Made in red or blue felt with a bow, this sleeve slips over the back of the chair to allegedly dress it up. I say allegedly because surely they meant well. I mean, they didn’t kill all that felt because they knew full well it would amount to a tacky mess, right?
Save the felt! Skip the sleeve.

Bag Lady’s true identity is protected by a pair of stylish, sweater-wearing Doberman pinschers (who on Monday chewed up a Christmas card that gave them a dirty look) and the Customer Service counter at the Sun Journal. You can reach her at [email protected]


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