There's a reason that mall loudspeaker holiday music sounds a little more like the Jaws score every day leading up to Christmas, but take a deep breath. There are a few ways to reduce last-minute holiday shopping stress — no, really. 'Tis the season for believing, right? Say it with me now: "I believe."
Granted, there are few holiday activities more anxiety-inducing than hitting up a shopping center just before December 25. Personally, I'd prefer 100 dinner-table questions about where my career is going or why I'm still single to stepping foot into a crowded mall just days before one of the year's biggest (and most commercial) holidays.
Of course, if you're one of the lucky few who's got all of their gifts purchased, packed and wrapped under the tree, congrats. If not, I feel your pain. I may only have one gift left to grab, but I still can't help but feel that deep pit of dread in my stomach, telling me to stop procrastinating already.
It's officially time to lock down that fear and focus, though. There are certain techniques that can make holiday shopping as painless as possible, even when you're getting down to the wire (aka, now.) Here are seven tricks to keeping your sanity while Christmas shopping this late in the game:
Going in blind is the worst thing you can do for your stress level when it comes to last-minute holiday shopping. Decide ahead of time what you're going to buy, where you're going to buy it, and how much you're going to spend. Even though it's too late for ground shipping in time for Christmas, that doesn't mean the Internet is totally worthless in your quest for the perfect holiday gift. For some stores, like Target and Best Buy, you can purchase your item online and pick it up in store.
Wear Comfy Shoes
Timberland Glastonbury Sneaker, $125, Nordstrom
Even if those heeled booties will look way more stylish with your chunky knit sweater and skinny jeans, I promise you won't regret wearing comfortable kicks on your shopping expedition. Not only do they get you from store to store faster, but sneakers show people that you mean business. Don't mess.
Don't Go Hangry
The only thing worse than shopping during the holidays? Shopping during the holidays hungry — or worse, hangry. Feeling ready to chew your own arm off doesn't really help with that whole stress thing, plus you'll feel run-down and out of energy. Do yourself a favor and grab a bite before you head to the mall, or pack a snack in your purse (unless you want to spend 20 minutes in the pretzel line.)
I love my family and friends, but there are some things that you just need to do by yourself. And one of those things is last-minute holiday shopping. It's always tough to shop with other people when you're on a mission, and let the record show, you're definitely on a mission. By flying solo, you're free to check your list on your phone without seeming rude, walk as fast as you want, and go only where you need to. Mission accomplished.
Pack Your Patience
It's inevitable: You're gonna need some patience when you shop right before Christmas. Before heading out, give yourself a mental pep talk and realize that everyone is in the same boat. Show a little kindness, and don't let the crowds get in the way of your holiday spirit. You can do this! If all else fails, pop a little liquid courage in your purse — I'm talking about a calming aromatherapy roller ball, of course. (What did you think I meant?)
Have A Back-Up Plan
Starbucks Gift Cards, Starbucks
Your online pre-shopping didn't work out exactly as you'd planned? Don't freak out. Whether your gift is sold out or more expensive than you remembered, come armed with a back-up plan. It can be another present idea, or even a gift card. To keep the latter from seeming thoughtless, write a personal note with it — for example, "You can put this Starbs card to good use during our next girls' coffee date. Grande, baby."
Plan Something Enjoyable Afterwards
One thing to keep in mind during moments of holiday shopping stress? "This too shall pass." Have something enjoyable lined up for when it does. Plan a workout, treat yourself to a mug of hot chocolate, or settle into the book you've been neglecting. Whatever helps you de-compress, do that.
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Images: Stokpic; Jeshoots; Courtesy of brands