Holiday Shopping 101

Ok, I’ll admit it. I’m a last-minute Christmas shopper. I’m not Christmas eve 24 hour Wal-Mart shopper bad  but it’s not unusual for me to start my christmas shopping with a week until the 25th or paying extra to have things shipped to me on time. I basically fall somewhere in the middle of the do’s and don’t’s of holiday shopping. It’s not that I have trouble figuring out what to get people. In fact, not to brag, but I think I’m kind of good gift giver. In fact, I’ve known what I’ve wanted to get a majority of my friends and family for at least a few months. However, It’s finding the motivation to the face the holiday madness that slows me down.

Working in retail has forever changed my perception of the holidays. There isn’t any time of the year that a person would most not want to be at the mall than during Christmas time. Working in a mall makes it so that I never want to go to one for leisure. It’s crowded, messy, and a lot of people are in horrible moods. Who would have thought that a time that was meant to bring so much joy to everyone, could be so damn stressful?

Anyway, after getting paid last week, I reluctantly decided to take a trip to the mall to finally do the Christmas shopping I had been putting off for weeks. The stores were as crazy as I expected them to be but I managed to leave the Hall road area within a few hours with only a minor headache. In the following days, when reflecting on the experience, I was able to come up with a short list of things to remember to survive holiday shopping. While this may not be as relevant now, considering that Christmas shopping is coming to an end, it’ll definitely help you for years to come. For the rest of you, who haven’t finished their Christmas shopping yet, good luck.

1. Be strategic. I get it, you’re indecisive but planning out a list of places you want to go and things you want to get for every individual on your holiday list before you go to the mall saves A LOT of time. Have a plan before you go shopping and map out the stores that are close together so that you know what order you should visit them in. It may even be wise to consider hitting the mall earlier in the day to beat other holiday shoppers. Not only will you have the ability to shop when the stores are at their cleanest but you will also get the best parking spot. Also, don’t forget to ask about gift boxes. Many stores offer them with your purchase  which will save you another trip. Which leads me to my next point…

2. Use your time wisely. Your goal when christmas shopping should be to get in and out as quickly as possible. Once you’ve made a list of the things you’re shopping for, only stick to those things. Straying away from them will only add to your shopping time and frustration. If you’re shopping with a group, don’t be afraid to split up and tackle the list separately. While shopping with friends can be very fun, it’s definitely an easy way to get distracted and waste time at the mall.

3. Eat well. There’s  a reason the phrase “shop ’till you drop” exists. Shopping, especially shopping around the holidays, can be extremely exhausting. Aside from being well rested, the most important thing you can do is make sure you eat well. There are few things that are more annoying than walking through a crowded mall or standing in a line that winds throughout a store when you have an empty stomach. The general rule of thumb is to avoid the food court. While the food court may seem convenient, I can guarantee you it is not. The food court is always crowded and the easiest way to waste your time. Food courts also have a way of appearing as though they have good options for you to eat. Low prices, large amounts of food, and a wide variety, what could be better? However, food from the food court is most likely going to be high in fat and sugar, things that won’t keep your body going when you’re shopping. It’s almost guaranteed that you’ll feel like shit after you eat a piece of pizza that’s as big as your head or chicken drenched in soy sauce, so just say no. Eat at home or at a nearby restaurant to avoid traffic and heart attacks.

4. balance your budget. If you’re like me (aka a 20 something years old college student), Christmas shopping probably puts a serious dent in your bank account. About two months before you need to start shopping for presents, take a look at your transactions and try to figure out where you can minimize spending. Remember your needs and your wants, and try to avoid any big personal purchases. If it comes down to it, don’t be ashamed to plan your Christmas shopping around your paycheck. Another thing to keep in mind when preparing for christmas shopping: while many stores have great sales on Black Friday, the really good sales that you do NOT want to miss usually happen a few weeks after Thanksgiving. Many stores also have online exclusives so make sure to check out their sites as well.

5. Most importantly, don’t be an asshole. This just applies to life in general but for some reason it’s become particularly important to mention at this time of year. Coming from someone who works retail, there’s nothing worse than a customer that is disrespectful of the store that they’re in, fellow shoppers, or sales associates. I get it. Christmas shopping can be really intense. Some people, who are otherwise very sound individuals, become absolutely crazed around the holiday times and behave in completely unacceptable behavior. So for anyone who was unsure, there is never any reason to do any of the following: raise your voice at someone in a store, not pick up something you drop, cut in line, open up packaging that is sealed, verbally/physically assault another person, or cause any sort of scene. If you are one of the people who decides to act this way when shopping, don’t be surprised when people who work in the store aren’t friendly towards you or don’t want to help you. Seriously, just think twice and don’t be THAT person. It’ll make shopping a whole lot easier for not only yourself but everyone around you.



Emma Klug started The Style Note in the fall of 2012. Her writing has been featured in DBusiness Magazine, Chicago Sun-Times, Nothing Major, The Working Wardrobe, Chicago Talks, Inexpensive Chic, and The Wayne State University student paper: The South End. When she’s not writing you can find her eating pizza, binge-watching Netflix and working her day job as a magazine editor.


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2 Comments on "Holiday Shopping 101"

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You are hysterical as well as wise. Thanks for the post!


I’m in my first retail job, and I’m in training during the holidays, and I think the mall is ruined for me forever… I totally relate.