Holiday shopping can quickly kill your Christmas spirit. From the crowds to the lack of product selection, there are several things to dislike about holiday shopping. Add shopping with kids onto that list, and you may be considering just giving everyone a white elephant gift this year.
We know Christmas shopping with kids isn’t ideal. But when you don’t have a choice, make it successful rather than stressful by following our 7 holiday shopping tips.
You never want to go shopping unprepared, especially when Christmas shopping with kids. So before you leave the house, browse online to compare prices and see what stores have what you want. Then, make your list and prioritize it. While at the store, get your most important items first just in case a toddler tantrum forces you to leave the store sooner than planned. Also, bring a bag packed with the essentials and distractions: diapers, wipes, extra outfits, small toys, and snacks. With the last two, consider bringing something you don’t normally let your kids have, so they’re more likely to be quietly distracted for a while.
While getting your kids dressed to leave, let them know where you’re going, what you’re getting, and how long you plan to be there. Then, explain your rules—at home and right before you go into a store. Use simple statements to tell them how you expect them to act rather than what not to do, like “I need you to hold my hand while we’re in the parking lot”, and “you have to stay in the cart or walk right next to mommy in the store.” If you lay this out, your crafty 7-year-old can’t say, “Well you can’t be mad at me because I didn’t know any better.”
Kids want to help, so let yours be Mrs. Claus’ little elves this shopping trip. If you have a reader, let her read through the shopping list. If someone can’t read but can lift things, let them put stuff in your cart. If you’re shopping for a gift for dad, let your kids help decide what to get him. Go an extra step to make it a special team effort by calling your outing mommy and Michael’s afternoon adventure or Reese’s race to get family presents.
Tell your kids if they are good while you shop—if they meet those expectations you clearly set—they’ll get a special treat. Maybe you’ll stop to play at an indoor playground or grab a donut on the way home.
If you’re shopping by yourself with a baby and carts are available, use a shopping cart hammock. It will keep your hands free to shop and your cart open for everything you need to buy, all while safely and comfortably holding your baby. If a store doesn’t have carts, bring a baby carrier or stroller.
Kids have short attention spans, so make each shopping trip short. Set an alarm so you’re in and out in an hour or however long your kids can handle. If you need to go to a few stores or hit the mall for a couple of hours, have ways to break up the shopping. Find a public play area or grab lunch at the food court.
What’s worse than shopping with kids? Shopping with hungry and tired kids. Plan your shopping trips around meals and naps. Everyone, including you, will have a better attitude and time shopping if fed and energized.
It’s the most wonderful time of year! Let our holiday shopping tips help make the time out with your kids fun, festive, and fruitful.