Tips for Holiday Shopping with Kids
Holiday shopping can be stressful under the best of conditions due to crowds, traffic, and the pressure to find everything you need. Adding kids to the chaos can create even more frustration and unpleasantness for the whole family. Thankfully, there are strategies that can make the holiday shopping experience a little smoother and easier for parents and their children.
Here are some tips for holiday shopping with kids that should ease the stress a bit for everyone.
There are many ways to prepare to take your kids holiday shopping. This may include packing water, snacks, extra toiletries or supplies, and even a few diversions in the form of books or small toys. However, one of the best ways to be prepared for a successful shopping trip is to clearly communicate expectations for you and your child before you set out.
For example, if you plan to shop in the morning, you can prepare your kids by letting them know that you’ll be home in time for lunch—and stick to that promise. That way, your children will have a sense of when they’ll be returning home. It’s also beneficial to explain to your kids that you will be shopping for others, so they shouldn’t expect purchases for themselves. This can be a difficult concept to grasp, so be clear and direct in an age-appropriate manner. Though bribes and rewards should be avoided if possible, you can communicate your appreciation for your child’s cooperation by doing something fun together after the shopping trip such as reading a book or playing a game.
Shopping with kids typically compromises the luxury of browsing store aisles at a leisurely pace. Children often become bored and restless, which can lead to unwanted behaviors and escalated tension. Getting organized before you go is an excellent strategy to keep your shopping trip focused and successful. Some organizational tasks may require making lists and plans to maximize your efficiency in terms of where you shop and for whom.
Though you may miss spending the day at the mall or driving across town for ideas and deals, keep in mind that there will come a time when either your kids will want to participate in extended holiday shopping or be old enough to stay home while you enjoy the experience again at your own pace.
Time It Right
When it comes to shopping with kids, timing is everything. Ideally, children should be well-rested and well-fed before any excursion (and this goes for parents as well). In addition, it’s important to consider timing in terms of holiday traffic, shopping crowds, and even inclement weather. Since you know your child best, consider timing your holiday shopping with minimal disruption to their normal routine. Though you may not be able to check off everything on your list in a day, you and your child will appreciate well-timed planning that doesn’t result in over-stimulation, frustration, and fatigue.
Though it may not seem as if your children are paying close attention to your emotional cues, even the littlest ones can sense when their parents are stressed, frustrated, or angry. This, in turn, can cause your kids to feel unsettled and overwhelmed, complicating the already challenging activity of holiday shopping. Even if you feel pressured to carry on with your shopping tasks at all costs, allow yourself the option to surrender by heading home and trying another day. Knowing you have an exit strategy, if needed, may help you keep perspective and a sense of humor in the face of seasonal retail chaos.
Inclusion in the Giving Spirit
Unfortunately, gift giving and receiving during the holidays can reduce this special time of year to consumerism. Kids in particular are often preoccupied with what they “want,” and holiday shopping can quickly reinforce the idea that presents are of the utmost importance. Thankfully, shopping with your children during this season offers an opportunity for them to consider giving to others rather than focusing on what they hope to receive.
You can include your child in this giving spirit by allowing them to choose a reasonable toy, book, puzzle, or other item to make a holiday donation. Many stores have donation bins near the entrance/exit, so your child can experience the joy of knowing their gift will help to make the season brighter for someone else. This will not only set a positive tone for your shopping trip, but it will set a valuable precedent for giving to and considering others.
Consider Shopping Online
Though online shopping doesn’t necessarily compare with the tangibility and fun of in-store browsing and bargain hunting, it’s a viable alternative for parents who don’t want the added stress of holiday shopping with their children. Aside from the convenience of shopping from home, here are some other benefits of online holiday purchasing:
• Online retailers are “open” 24 hours a day, every day
• You can select gifts for your children in private to keep them a surprise
• Free shipping is common
• You can explore and support independent businesses through sites such as Cognisprings, Etsy, etc.
• Items can be held in your virtual cart if you need extra time to decide on a purchase
Of course, online shoppers are still subject to impulse buys, so keep in mind your list and budget.
One of the best ways to avoid added holiday stressors for you and your children is to focus on the meaningful traditions of the season and spending time together as a family. At Cognisprings, we support parents looking for educational toys that encourage family fun as well as independent play. That’s why we provide games, books, puzzles, and toys that are thoughtfully designed and unique to enhance children’s critical thinking, creativity, and curiosity. Our products allow families to connect and learn with each other in addition to forming lasting traditions and memories by prioritizing excellent options for screen-free play, healthy cognitive development, and diverse experiences. Thank you for allowing us to be part of your holiday fun!