The Christmas-shopping season is always busy, and for those with busy schedules, Christmas shopping can be a huge hassle. Here are some tips for those who want to avoid the rush during the Christmas season.
Shop during the week. The malls are always packed on the weekends during the Christmas season, but many malls are not as busy on weeknights. If you want to shop on weeknights, the earlier you do it the less busy the stores will be. I usually finish all of my shopping before Thanksgiving and I never have to deal with the crowds.
Shop during “extended hours.” I worked retail all through college, and during the Christmas season, I’d often be working at the mall until midnight for extended store hours. However, very few customers actually came in to shop on weeknights at 11:00 p.m. This is a great time to avoid crowds in many stores. It can also be a great time for parents to shop without their kids (as long as they can find someone else to watch the kids while they’re gone).
Shop at less popular malls. Older, smaller malls often draw smaller crowds. I shop at malls that are less popular whenever possible. They have many of the same stores, but shopping there is quicker, and I usually can find better deals, because sale items don’t sell out as quickly. Often the store associates are more helpful, too, because they are less busy and they haven’t dealt with 1,000 angry customers.
Shop online. Last year, I wanted to get some of the day after Thanksgiving deals, but I didn’t want to go to the mall. So I shopped online. I still got some great deals and I never had to deal with long lines, crowded bathrooms, or overflowing parking lots. If you would like to shop online for Christmas gifts, make sure that shipping is guaranteed by Christmas.
Do your shopping before the Christmas season. I often pick up gifts throughout the year if I see something and know that someone on my Christmas list would enjoy it. This way, I can often get the gifts at reasonable prices, and I don’t have to rush around looking for something during the Christmas season. I am also able to cross many names off my list before the Christmas season even arrives, leaving me with less shopping to do (and less money to spend) during the Christmas season.
Give gift certificates. You can buy many gift certificates through the mail or online and they usually ship out quickly. Many large discount and grocery stores also sell gift certificates to many different stores, so you can get certificates to different stores at one stop.
Give subscriptions. You can order a gift subscription for someone without ever leaving your home. However, many subscriptions take several months to become effective. If you want to give someone a gift subscription, make sure that you do it ahead of time.
Make homemade gifts. If you have the ability to make something that would make a great gift, you can make your gifts, and you only need to visit the store for your supplies. Making homemade gifts also allows you to give gifts that are truly unique and personal. Some of my favorite things are gifts that people made for me.
Shop at “mom and pop” stores. Sometimes you can avoid crowds by shopping at small, privately owned retailers rather than at large department stores. You can also often find gifts that are more unique at these stores, especially if you shop at a privately owned specialty shop. The customer service and product knowledge at specialty stores is also sometimes better because the employees are more passionate about the products that they are selling.