Running the shopping mall gauntlet during the holidays is like running a marathon in a snowsuit: competitive, crazy-making and unnecessarily sweaty. But instead of giving up and letting your heart shrink to two sizes too small, de-Grinch the holiday shopping experience with these helpful tips.
1. Think of it like a workout
Whether you prefer to hit the mall in multiple small sprints, or for one marathon shopping session, prepare for it like you would an actual run. You’ll need to stay hydrated so throw a bottle of water in your purse (and maybe pick up a festive egg nog latte on the way). And don’t forget to pack some protein-rich snacks — a handful of almonds and dried fruit or an energy bar will help you recharge and stave off holiday hanger.
2. Make a game plan
Many retail centres have downloadable phone apps that map the store locations to help you plan out the most efficient route. Augment this with apps such as Giftster, which creates wish lists for friends, family and co-workers (and even has a shared calendar feature so you can track get-togethers and events), and RetailmeNot, which alerts you to the best deals in your area, and you’ll have a strategy that even the most A-type shopper would approve of.
3. Schedule rest and recovery breaks
Just like losing one glove when the first snow falls, crowded stores are a sure thing this time of year. Give yourself more time than you think you’ll need for every shopping trip, both to absorb extra minutes in long lineups, and for breaks to stop and smell the candy-cane-scented candles.
4. Pack your headphones
If you find yourself struggling to choose between red and blue wrapping paper, close to tears and fighting the urge to flee, the overwhelming nature of the season might be getting the best of you. Before you leave for the mall, download a mindfulness app (like Headspace) or some chill-out music so it’s at the ready if you need to regroup (see Tip #3).
5. Use free wrapping services
This one’s a no-brainer. While someone else is wrapping your presents, you can sit back with your chill music and day dream about your next sunny vacation.
6. Or, just outsource the whole shebang
If the just the thought of battling crowds has you breaking out in a sweat, sit back, relax and outsource. PS Dept is a popular, web-based personal shopper; for a human touch, many major retailers have in-store assistants. This might seem like an impersonal way to pick gifts, but sometimes it’s better to leave tough jobs to the professionals and save time for the important things: spending QT with loved ones and eating too many shortbread cookies.