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How to Make Holiday Shopping Less Painful as a Parent

Written by Hilary Hoogsteen

Wondering how you’re going to get through another holiday shopping season with bab(ies) in tow? Our writer has some useful tips to help make it a bit easier for everyone in your family.

We all set out with good intentions when it comes to Christmas shopping, but the idea of lugging kids around the mall can be overwhelming, especially around the holidays. Amongst the busy parking lots, long checkout lines and tired kids, hitting the mall in December quickly goes from winter wonderland to nightmare before Christmas. I’ve compiled a few easy tips to help you navigate the experience of finding gifts for loved ones with ease.

Babysitting Swap

If you’re feeling swamped and overwhelmed with holiday shopping, chances are you’re not alone. Reach out to a friend with kids and ask if they would be open to a babysitting swap one weekend so you can both shop kid-free and complete your holiday shopping in one efficient trip.

Start with Coffee

I often feel like starting a shopping trip with a bit of a pick-me-up, but coffee lines in the mall often extend outside of the cafe and use up precious shopping time. Bring a travel mug from home and start the outing off feeling energized and refreshed.

Give the Kids an Allowance

If you opt to bring the kids along, get them involved by giving them an allowance. When kids are engaged in the gift buying process, they will be less likely to act out and feel like they are being dragged along. Give the kids a designated amount of money to pick out gifts for nieces and nephews. This will not only extend potential good behaviour, but it will teach them important money management skills. Plus, making the gifts from the kids will relieve the pressure of finding the perfect gift for extended family members.

Pack Snacks

Kids often get tired and crash after a busy day at the mall. Fill your purse with granola bars and fruit snacks to avoid a mid-mall meltdown and long lines in the food court. Setting yourself up for a successful trip before you leave the house will make all the difference when navigating the stores with little ones.

Allow more Time than Expected

I’ve always loved shopping for gifts, but when you feel rushed, the experience can be overwhelming. Double how long you think the trip may take in your mind so you can enjoy the experience and find it relaxing. Allow time for breaks, snacks and diaper changes.

Order Online

My Amazon Prime subscription is one of my most worthwhile investments each year. As parents, we need to recognize our limitations and make use of tools that help us work efficiently. I order almost all my household needs online—everything from diapers and wipes to coffee beans. Gifts are no exception; ordering online helps me avoid the chaos of navigating the mall with a new baby.

The key to enjoying the process of finding gifts for loved ones is to slow down and remind yourself why you’re purchasing gifts. Remember that gift buying is an expression of how you feel about a person, and not just a reason to spend a set amount of money on someone because they expect you to. Take time to prepare and cut trips short when needed so holiday shopping becomes joyful again.

The Parent Life Network is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This means that we will sometimes recommend products we love or think our readers will find useful and will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you decide to purchase through Amazon.

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.