Holiday shopping requires a different kind of finesse to navigate the sea of stores, sales and crowds. This is where the women are separated from the wimps, the pros from the amateurs, it’s the big time. You need to have a plan. Get in, get it and get out.
Here are some techniques to help save you some time and patience.
Shop at off hours. Most stores have crazy extended hours. Most people use those hours the day before Christmas. Use them now. Walking around Target at 9:30 at night with a piping hot Starbucks all by yourself is dare I say relaxing. Walking around Target at 9:30 in the morning on a Saturday with a cup of Starbucks you waited in a 30 minute line for is dare I say dangerous to your mental health. And go in your pajamas if your more comfortable. No one cares, it’s late and we are all tired.
Shop with the invisible baby – or two. Take your jumbo stroller (the travel system works nicely) or even a double umbrella will do the trick and turn it into your own personal assistant. It will hold your bags, your coffee, your jacket, your phone. All the essentials. It will clear through crowds like a tank. Don’t have one? Borrow one from a friend. They won’t think it is weird if you explain it. I know it is annoying when your kids are little and you are lugging that dirty crumb collector everywhere but there will come a time when your kids are older and you miss that extra helping hand to store all your stuff.
Will you get weird looks? You betcha. Especially older people. They love to stop and make a comment like “Looks like you’re missing your baby!” Since it is sometimes hard to tell if they are joking or not you can politely explain that this is your shopping cart or for added fun you can act shocked and start to frantically shout “Kevin! Kevin! Where are you!”
Wear layers.Even if the weather outside is frightful the inside of crowded malls is usually warm. Wear basics and layers to make it easy to try on clothes (you know you will still be doing a little shopping for yourself). Pick shoes or boots that slip on and off and are comfortable. Don’t bring in a bulky jacket that you have to carry around, instead opt for a cozy heavier cardigan or sweater. Use a crossbody or messenger bag to keep your hands free. You can wear a scarf to keep warm and if sale and crowd pushing makes you work up a sweat just tie it to the strap of your messenger bag. (all images below via pinterest)
I personally avoid the malls as much as I can. I prefer smaller stores. The staff is knowledgeable and the customer service is excellent, it has to be these days to compete with online pricing. My neighbor and friend owns a toy store called Wackadoodles which is every bit as fun as it sounds. She has saved me in many situations where I have simply called ahead, told her the age of the birthday boy or girl, price range etc and she will have it wrapped and ready to go. I have pulled up my car curbside so I can simply grab and go. I have even paid over the phone to save time.
*INSIDER TIP – If you need help ask. Some stores, especially smaller specialized boutiques, have very knowledgeable sales staff. They can make recommendations quickly based on your price range. And if you don’t see what you need out on the floor they may be able to special order it or check their back stock. Sometimes the stores get so busy and do not get a chance to restock the merchandise. And be nice to the sales people. They go through some serious hell this time of year. If you are the least bit nice to them they will be really nice to you.
*INSIDER TIP – Find out what the return policy is. This is so important. Keep your receipts together in a special place and mark the return date in highlighter. If Aunt Marge tells you she is a small but turns out the small won’t fit over her head you want to be able to return or exchange it. Most stores have different exceptions to their usual policies, with varying extended dates.
*INSIDER TIP – Still stuck on the perfect gift? Give the gift of a clean closet. I have done many closets where I was hired via a gift certificate. Not in a your-style-is-awful-so-here’s-a-makeover-way but in a I-know-you-are-sick-of-your-closet kind of way. I can send the gift certificate all boxed up and pretty directly to you or the recipient. You can purchase a one hour mini/starter session for $75.00. It sounds counterintuitive but when you have less stuff you wear more of it. It actually saves you money from going out and buying more stuff. Plus many clients get a decent amount back after we consign some of their items. You could end up making money!
So grab a latte and get going! I wish you Godspeed in your shopping. BRING IT.