Pick the right day
Plan your one-day shopping marathon for the end of November, before the madness hits (December 20 to 23 is the busiest shopping time of the year!). The trick here is to choose a single mall that serves all your purposes, rather than going to different areas and stores.
Fuel up for the day by starting with a protein-filled breakfast. Then make a list of who you’re buying for, what you want to get them, how much you want to spend and what stores you need to hit. Throw a bag of nuts in your purse for a snack.
Be strategic and arrive at the mall five minutes before the stores open on a weekday, and you’ll be golden. Parking spaces are still plentiful, and the mall is at its quietest. (Check whether they have extended holiday hours, so you’re as early as possible.)
Hit the ground running. Bring reusable fabric totes (easier to manage than 100 different sizes of shopping bags) and a map of the mall. Figure out the best route for hitting all the shops in a circuit.
Recharge! Stop by your favourite café for a peppermint latte (the smell alone will give you a boost). Bust out a handful of those nuts you stashed earlier.
Hit the food court and lunch smart. Steer clear of fries, subs and muffins — they’ll only slow you down and cloud your judgment, leading to a holiday meltdown of giant-cookie-sized proportions. Go for sushi with brown rice or a whole-grain turkey wrap.
After five hours at the mall battling the crowds, you deserve a little pick-me-up. Treat yourself to an express manicure at the salon. Now you’re covered for that holiday party later!
Take stock: Have you stuck to your budget? Don’t let glitzy displays and pushy salespeople clean out your wallet. Now’s the time they’re out on the prowl, and you’re at your weakest. Find a moment to review your list and avoid regret by returning any impulse buys right away.
More of a night owl? Some malls stay open until 11 p.m. during the holidays, which is also a quieter time. If you head out after the kids are in bed and shop from 8 to 11 p.m., you won’t be pushing through crowds quite as thick (but you may have to deal with exhausted sales staff ).
If you didn’t find everything you were looking for, online shopping is still an option. Just make sure to get your orders in before December 10 to have gifts under the tree in time. Try to shut down an hour before bedtime; sitting in front of a bright screen can contribute to insomnia.