Does the thought of holiday shopping with kids make you want to scream “No way!” Shopping any time with children can certainly test your patience. But don’t worry! With a few tips and tricks up your sleeves, you can turn this once nightmare into a time-honoured tradition.
One of my most cherished holiday traditions was going shopping with my father. My dad loved to shop, and this was my special time alone with him, no mom and no brother. I remember putting on my favorite outfit, lip gloss and perfume. At the mall, I would help him pick out gifts for my mom and something special for myself. We would always stop for lunch (my choice) and have heart-to-heart talks. Afterwards, we would come home and watch our favorite holiday movies. This precious time is something I have tried to recreate with my own boys.
Plan in advance!
In order to create a memorable experience, you need to have a plan in place. Being proactive is always better than being reactive.
- I know it may seem crazy, especially since we have very little “extra’ time but, consider rehearsal runs to the store. When my boys were little, we went on short trips to the store where they had to work on their shopping skills (e.g., waiting in line, walking beside me or holding my hand).
- Before leaving the house, communicate your expectations. It is important to also review the rules on your way too. For younger children, you may want to consider creating a visual to support your words.
- It is okay to say “No” and set boundaries about purchases that your children may want while shopping. Have them write it down or take pictures for reference (e.g., possible future gift ideas).
- I’m sure you have heard the term “hangry”. To avoid meltdowns due to grumbling tummies, make sure your children (and you) have been fed before you leave the house.
- If your kids tend to be grazers when it comes to eating, don’t forget to bring extra snacks and water.
- Fashionable clothes can still be worn even if it does not include 2-inch heels. Ensure everyone is wearing light clothing and comfortable shoes.
- Waiting can be a challenge for some children. Have your kids wear a small back pack/sack that can hold a few of their favorite toys (e.g., word finds, small note book and crayons, vehicles, small figures, stickers, etc.)
Timing is key during holiday shopping with kids
- Avoid the crowds. Go early, plan a weeknight or even consider a day (or half) off school.
- Stop and rest. Some malls are equipped with play centres for children. Just make sure to have hand sanitizer to help ward off unwanted germs.
- Pace yourself. Don’t attempt to get it all done in one day.
- Catch your children being good. We have a tendency to focus on when they are misbehaving and sigh relief when they are doing what is expected. Shift this balance by praising them (and perhaps with a small reward) when they are complaint.
Actively involve your children
- Have your children make a list of who they would like to buy for, a budget and ideas
- Take them shopping with their money to buy for others.
- Give them a task such as finding a particular item in the store.
- Kids of all ages can get bored while shopping. Why not make the trip to the mall a little more fun? Set up a scavenger hunt. This is a great arts and crafts activity that can be set up in advance, especially by older children. Other fun games may include, I Spy, or the name game. Choose a category, then start with the first letter of the alphabet and say a “name” that starts with that letter. Example: Holiday treats: A- apple pie, B-bark, C-candy cane (double points)
The holiday season is a time to focus on what really matters- spending quality time together. When you are out and about, don’t forget to stop for a sweet treat and a pleasant conversation with your children. Holiday shopping may actually turn into something jolly for the whole family.