Warning: Don’t Mix Alcohol and Online Shopping

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Drunk dialing, drunk texts, drunk Facebooking … there are many things one shouldn’t do while drunk. Add online shopping to the list.

Nowadays if you’re drinking, it’s advisable to hand over not only your keys, but your credit card as well, to a sober, responsible friend—ideally, one with good taste too. Why? The dangers of shopping while drunk.

Specifically, online shopping while drunk, which very well may peak during the holiday season, when consumers are in the mode to party and shop in equally large doses. The New York Times recently reported on the syndrome, which is hardly the only activity known to result in bad decisions when the beer goggles are on.

On the one hand, shopping when highly inebriated can double the fun and excitement of impulse purchases. First, there’s the initial fun that goes along with browsing and buying. Second, there’s the fun mystery factor—when a package is delivered and you have no idea what it is until it’s opened.

(MORE: Why It’s a Good Idea to Judge a Wine Strictly by the Label)

Everybody likes getting a surprise gift, after all, and shopping while drunk gives you the rare opportunity to buy what’ll feel like a surprise treat for yourself. You may even be surprised with how generous you are when you’re drunk.

Seriously, though, however fun tipsy shopping may be, it must also increase the chances of bizarre and stupid purchases at least by a factor of two. One regrettable example mentioned by a drunk shopper in the Times: a “Heart’s Greatest Hits” CD purchased from Amazon one blurry night. Like the purchase itself, listening to Heart is generally also pleasurable only when intoxicated—and then seems like a horrible idea the day after, when your head’s pounding with a killer hangover.

Few consumers think all that much about shopping while drunk. Unsurprisingly, though, e-retailers are keenly aware of the phenomenon. Almost half of Britons polled by one shopping site said they’d gone shopping online after drinking.

Naturally, sellers do what they can to tempt consumers into making purchases while they’re in good moods and don’t have their guards up. Many online sellers flood consumers with limited-time offers starting well after the dinner hour, when the odds are best that people have a few drinks in them. The Gilt Groupe, which specializes in high-end flash deals, says it’s adding more deals that kick off at 9 p.m. While sellers don’t overtly promote the idea of drunken shopping, hundreds of sellers, including QVC and eBay, take careful note of nighttime shopping patterns—which spike around 8 p.m. and often stay strong through midnight. It’s during these shopping “happy hours” that sellers often focus on fun, seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time impulse purchases, such as Neiman Marcus fashions or a luxury hotel three-day getaway.

(MORE: Why You Should Shop for Cars When You’re Grumpy)

As the saying goes, nothing good happens at a bar after midnight. It’s pretty likely that nothing good or sensible is purchased after midnight as well.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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