There are few things more challenging than trying to manage your children in the middle of a crowded mall during the holiday season. If you don’t learn how to master the art of Christmas shopping with children, then what is meant to be a joyous time can quickly turn into a catastrophe. Here are some tips to help you get through the escapade with everyone happy.
Christmas shopping can easily be ranked as one of the most pleasant and heart-warming times of the year! It is a time when we finally have an official occasion to show our family and friends how much they mean to us by choosing the perfect gift to make their Christmas even more special! The festivity lasts for days and is celebrated with family gatherings, celebrations, cooking, a lot of eating, and a lot of gifts.
Parent will be fully aware of the preparation that any activity with the little ones requires in order to keep the peace running until the very end. Kids can easily get upset or stressed when exposed to unfamiliar atmospheres, people, locations, if the temperature doesn’t feel right, or if they suddenly get hungry.
Taking a regular walk in the park, for instance, is often a challenge for parents with little ones, but there is something even more frightening – taking your children to the mall for Christmas shopping! Now, we don’t want to sound too negative and suggest that every shopping journey with the kids will be burdensome but especially in the case where the shopping not entirely focused on the children, chances are that you may be in for a bumpy ride!
To avoid ruining this year’s Christmas shopping with the kids, we’ve prepared a list of suggestions that could be useful for you as a parent during this year’s Xmas shopping!
You may be tempted to but avoid taking your bag and kids and heading to the mall for Christmas shopping on a last minute call. Even if a powerful shopping muse has hit you, it may not be the best time for your little ones. They may be cranky, sleepy, hungry, or in the middle of something much more fun and its disturbance might open Pandora’s box and end in tears.
Christmas shopping is a usually a lengthy process and may require a bit more time than a few minutes in one or two stores. For the purpose of getting through the journey successfully and with happy kids, plan in advance for the following:
- Food: Are the kids fed? How often do they take their meals and when are they likely to be hungry again? Prepare a snack that is suitable for their age, just in case they surprise you with a sudden spur of hunger!
- Water: Taking a bottle of water is an absolute must as you may find it difficult to get to a place where you can find mineral water because of crowded places, traffic, or other factors.
- Clothing: It’s worth thinking in advance and preparing a change of clothing for the kids while doing your Xmas shopping. Imagine that the temperature is somewhere close to the minimum and it’s a freezing winter day outside! However, chances are that the temperature inside the shopping mall will be very different! Make sure your children feel comfortable in their clothing.
- Comfortable shoes: Help your kids enjoy Christmas shopping with you by putting on their favorite shoes, which they feel comfortable and happy in!
Pros of including kids in Christmas shopping
Holiday shopping can include some special memory-making experiences, like visits to Santa Claus at the mall or checking out light and window displays downtown. Parents who have their own happy memories of these events naturally want to share this with their children.
Kids who only receive presents and aren’t involved in giving miss out on an important part of the Christmas experience. Choosing a gift for a brother or sister is an opportunity to practice thinking about other people more deeply than a small child usually does. The generosity involved in choosing a gift, paying for it, and wrapping it up is good practice for later life.
Giving kids an opportunity to earn money with which to buy their gifts, or to budget money you give them, helps hone math skills and get some basic economics lessons.
Cons of taking kids Christmas shopping
The Christmas shopping experience can be overwhelming. For younger children, the noise and lights and jollity can spell sensory overload. Santa Claus might be scary, and being surrounded by toys and candy leads to overexcitement. Slightly older kids may be able to handle the excitement, but feel overwhelmed by too many choices or disappointed when they compare their wants with what they can actually have.
Holiday shopping is a materialistic experience. If your family focuses on the spiritual aspects of Christmas or on family togetherness, Christmas shopping might be a contradiction of what your kids have learned about the holidays.
Shopping can bring out the worst in your kids. Especially if they get tired, bored, or hungry, they might act out. If the shopping trip is stressful for you, it might not be fun for your children.
Make holiday shopping as fun as possible
Healthy, happy holiday shopping with kids often comes down to one thing: planning.
Plan ahead. Let kids know where you will be going, what you will be buying, and what you expect of them. For example, tell kids that you will be shopping for relatives and not buying any gifts for yourselves, that you will go to just one shopping center, and that you count on them to stay close to you and to keep their hands to themselves. Each family will have their own rules, and things will change as your kids get older, but managing expectations is always good.
Make a plan in case you get separated. Identify one store or other landmark where you will meet up.
Narrow the focus as much as possible. If you really need to buy 18 gifts at stores all over town, get a sitter. Let the kids’ shopping trip be just for the kids. You might even want to skip photos, snacks, and your own shopping to keep things calm.
Make sure your kids are fed and rested before you head out. Make a list of the things you need to bring along, including diapers and water bottles. Make sure everyone is dressed for the weather and wearing comfortable shoes. Taking care of physical needs gives everyone a head start on staying in a good mood.
Malls and stores are great places to meet a virus! Wash hands before you eat and after you get home from shopping, and encourage kids not to touch public surfaces. It’s completely normal for kids to want to touch everything around them, but getting out of the habit can cut down on illnesses.
When kids start getting tired or cranky, go home. You may be concerned about getting all your shopping done, but cutting the trip short while everyone is still happy is your best bet in the long run. Focus on the fun shopping trip rather than focusing on your checklist. You can finish your errands online or when someone else is watching the kids.
Tips in shopping with kids
Share the Plan with the Kids
Let your little ones know what they are about the experience and share with them how fun Christmas shopping is! If they are at an age where verbal communication is possible, tell them who you are Christmas shopping for and even ask for ideas to make them feel involved in the process. This will keep them interested in the process and is likely to keep their attention lifespan active for longer.
Share your expectations with the kids from the shopping experience. Remind them of the “basic rules’ of shopping such as:
- No running in the shopping mall
- Staying by your side at all times
- No screaming or shouting
You may have your own set of ground rules and it’s important to remind your children of them before leaving for the shopping endeavor. Of course, try to share your thoughts in the best possible way and avoid sounding too strict or dominant as this may cause an opposite effect.
Tip: To make things more fun, create a Christmas shopping game and offer prizes or gifts if all requirements were met while shopping.
Toys Are Your Best Friend
Just like in the house, one of the best ways to keep your kids’ attention focused is on toys. Now, it’s worth mentioning that not every toy will work the magic as it needs to be an appropriate size, which allows you to carry it around. The toy should also be one that stimulates and emotional and highly engaging behavior from the little one in order to ensure that they will spend more time focusing on the toy.
For instance, if your child is a fan of the Minions, something as little as a mini Minion keychain with light functions can help the child enjoy their time in the mall while you do the Christmas shopping. This is just an idea but you get the point – try to make their experience as fun as possible as this will also be of great benefit to you as a parent with a shopping mission!
Segment Your Shopping
Depending on how long your Christmas shopping list may be, you might want to segment down the experience in several days, rather than buying all gifts at once. Imagine that you have 10 gifts that you are searching for. Chances are that the amount of time that will be necessary to choose the perfect 10 gifts, with the perfect wrapping, and the perfect price will be longer than your children will have the patience for.
For that purpose, make a list and choose a few shopping days that will be convenient. This way the shopping journey is likely to last an hour or two and your kids are likely to be happier with the shopping activity.
If your schedule is tight and there is no option of going to the shopping mall two or three times before Christmas, then gift shopping can be done in shorter intervals. For instance, arrange gift browsing for two hours and then stop for a lunch break with the children or a snacks pause. After the refreshment, shop for another hour or two, depending on how the kids are feeling. If there is potential for more shopping, take them to a children’s playing area in the mall or show them something that they will consider fun in the center.
Be Prepared At All Times
Unexpected situations could arise every minute with the little ones and you are probably already familiar with this possibility if you are a parent. We have no control over the reactions of our children, especially when they are at a younger age or toddlers. In such cases, regardless of the preparations and careful research that you have done to prevent your Christmas shopping from being ruined, there is no guarantee that things will go as smooth as we imagine them to be!
To stay on top of the game and have things in control, always have a backup plan. For instance, be ready to leave at all times. Sometimes it is better to let go instead of pushing things to the edge. So if your child is evidently about to have a breakdown as they have been unhappy, sleepy, or hungry for a certain amount of time while shopping, it is better to leave the shopping mall and postpone the Xmas gift search for another day.
You could also try to arrange for someone to come and pick the kids up from the shopping mall if things really get out of hand and you must stay as there will be no other way of you finishing your Christmas shopping. This could be another parent, friend, who your little ones feel comfortable and safe around, or a babysitter. The key is to make all the necessary arrangements in advance to avoid feeling embarrassed and extremely stressed.
Reward the Little Ones at the End
To finish the shopping journey in a positive way, take the kids for a special treat. If the little ones are still toddlers, you can prepare something healthy and fresh at home but still sit down at an attractive and yummy-looking sweetshop and ask the employees to give the treat to the child as if they have prepared it themselves. This will certainly make the little one feel special and happy and will certainly forget any possible negative emotions from the shopping.
Ending the Christmas shopping with a happy note will open the door for next year’s Xmas shopping as now your kids will have a nice and sweet memory from their experience!
Christmas shopping is a ton of fun and should certainly not be ruined by having to do it with the kids! It can be turned into a fun and enjoyable activity, during which you spend quality time with the little ones while completing your tasks. We hope that this list of suggestions on preparing for this year’s Christmas shopping with the kids will help you remove any barriers or threats to the experience! Enjoy this heartwarming time of year and share it with your loved ones!