It’s here – the holiday shopping rush. Year after year, we see stories on the news of people losing their cool when shopping, especially at midnight Friday, the official beginning of Black Friday. Is all that angst and rush worth it? Not really, according to US News & World Report, which said: “The deal you’re getting may not be as great as you think. A recent NerdWallet analysis found that 93 percent of retailers advertised products for the exact same price for Black Friday 2014 as they did for Black Friday 2013. Thus, some deals may be repeats and not impressive savings opportunities.” But you’ve got several weeks of shopping ahead of you, trying to find the right present for those you love. How can you keep your cool when others around you are losing it?
The number one way to avoid holiday shopping stress comes from the movie, “Wedding Datel” one of the characters says, “This is a marathon, not a sprint,” and that describes holiday shopping perfectly. You don’t have to get your shopping done all on one day and you don’t have to do it on Black Friday. Unless you thrive on mayhem, stay home, binge watch your favorite TV show with friends and family, eat lots of leftovers and work on your plan of attack.
Whether you start your shopping on Black Friday or wait, there will still be crowds. Want to avoid them? Shop online. Cyber Monday is the biggest online shopping day and you can do it from the comfort of your recliner or your desk. Just remember that thieves do their holiday shopping on your front porch, so make sure your Cyber Monday purchases are picked up right away, by having them delivered to a neighbor who works at home or requiring a signature for delivery, which means it goes from the delivery guy’s hands to yours.
Here are some other tips for keeping your cool while holiday shopping:
- Plan your purchases before you leave your house. Include the stores you’ll need to visit so you can get there, pick up what you need and leave. Also include alternate gift ideas, in case the one you have planned is sold out.
- Shop local. Big-box and national stores are always crowded, but if you shop at local merchants, not only will you be supporting your local economy, but you’ll help the owners and you’ll find unique and creative gifts you won’t find elsewhere.
- Play your favorite music while driving to and from the stores. Make it the music that centers you, keeps you calm and soothes you; then, you won’t be angry and agitated before you even get there.
- Park as far away from the door of the store as you can. If you plan on parking far away, you won’t be upset trying to find a close-in parking space and chances are, there will be a parking space with your name on it.
- Plan on standing in line and waiting. Before you leave home, make plans to stand in line. Wear comfy shoes, layers of clothing so you can remove a jacket or sweater if it gets hot in the store, and think of being on a warm beach somewhere.
- Remember that everyone is there for the same reason you are. They’re there to get gifts for their loved ones at the best price possible. They are not there to ruin your shopping experience or your life.
- Save your competitive side for watching the season’s football games. Shopping is not a competition; you’re doing something for the people you love (well, you like most of them).
- Hydrate and protein up. Keep bottled water and high-protein bars in your car to eat between stores. Keeping yourself hydrated and your blood sugar in good alignment will keep you from getting angry.
- Take frequent breaks. If you’re in the mall, don’t just go from store to store. Take breaks between stores to sit, talk with your family members with you, people watch (that’s some of the best entertainment out there) and breathe.
- Have a mall action plan. If you’re taking your family to the mall, have a plan where to meet between stores or at certain times, especially if you’re shopping with teens.
- Keep your kids close. Don’t let little ones wander off while you’re shopping; again, criminals are looking for opportunities to strike during this time of year.
- Keep your purchases and valuables closer. For women, carry the smallest purse possible and keep it in front of you. For men, put your wallet in your front pants pocket.
- Keep your purchases covered in your car. Car break-ins and parking lot muggings are now a fact of life, especially at this time of year. Be safety conscious.
If you take the time to plan, think of it as a marathon, hydrate and keep your blood sugar under control, and, most especially, remember the reason for the season, you’ll be less irritated and enjoy your shopping experience more.