Dec 4, 2015 · 3 minute read

By: Colleen Valles

This is the time of year that tries people’s souls.

Gift-giving at the holidays is a long and worthwhile tradition. It’s a wonderful way to acknowledge those you care for, to show you’ve been thinking about them and to celebrate the season and the spirit of generosity. We creative types have it a little easier in the gift-giving department, because we can make something for our loved ones.

However, there are always those friends and family members who don’t appreciate all the effort that goes into a handmade gift. They’re the ones who offer a polite thank you and a wan smile for the bowl you threw, painted and fired just for them, and then move quickly onto the next gift, excited when it’s a factory-produced set of nondescript stemware. But if it’s the 17th bowl they’ve gotten from you, can you blame them?

Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and … go to the mall.

OMG, the mall. The thought can send shivers down the spine of even the most stalwart soul.

At this time of year, it’s an inescapable evil. If you’ve waited this long, there’s no avoiding the crowds, but it’s still better to go now than wait any longer.

I have been guilty in the past of shopping on Christmas Eve, and it was horrible. So. Many. People. The small comfort was that I wasn’t the only procrastinator buying a tie with blinking lights in it. Not my proudest moment, but one that taught me a few lessons I feel compelled to share with my fellow mall-detestors to help ease the pain just a bit.

Remember, it just takes a little bit of thought and planning to get you through this difficult time.

Make a list of people to shop for. If you’ve made it to the mall (congratulations!) and done your shopping, you don’t want to come home and realize you’ve got to go back because you forgot Aunt Jane. Just sit down, right now, and make that list. Include people like your children’s teachers and any coworkers you have to buy for.

Go with a gift idea or three. This is no time for aimless browsing or getting distracted by cute blouses. You’re on a mission, and really, you should be giving gifts that show you care, not that show you were just desperate to get something and get out of there.

Trying to come up with great gift ideas on the fly, when faced with an overwhelming amount of stuff isn’t easy either. Before you go, take a few minutes and think about what each person on your list likes, what they’ve said they want, or what represents them. Try to think of at least two, but preferably three different gifts that would fit the bill. It’s disheartening to get to the mall and realize the one perfect gift you had hoped to get isn’t there. Have a fall back or two so you don’t leave the mall empty-handed and discouraged.

Time it right. The mall is going to be a zoo every weekend from now until December 24. If you must go, go after 8 p.m. during the week. Get off work, get some dinner, get someone to watch the kids and head over. The malls are open late this month, but by 8 p.m. on a weekday, the crowds will have thinned. Also, you have a finite amount of time which can help to focus your shopping.

Next year, plan ahead. Once you’ve gotten through this season, try keeping a running list – on your phone, in a notebook, on your computer – of people you need to shop for and what they’ve indicated they like, want or need. Update throughout the year, adding and crossing off as you learn what they’ve gotten or don’t want anymore. Then you’ll be in a good position next holiday season to get good gifts early. This is still something I’m trying to master.

Good luck, and tell us, what are your tips for surviving the mall?


Colleen Valles
I'm Colleen, a writer, mother, knitter, pet mama and tiny house enthusiast who truly believes that everybody should slow down and simplify to make room for the things that are most important in their lives. I'm on a journey to do just that, to be able to spend more time with family and friends, riding my bike and working in the garden. Sign up to get awesome content right in your inbox, or follow me on social media.