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Stress-free holiday shopping tips

Do you have some last minute holiday shopping to complete…with your toddler? The thought of hitting the mall, braving the crowd and searching for the few remaining gifts on your list is stressful enough, but if you have to do it with a toddler (or two) in tow, keep reading for holiday shopping tips.

Mom shopping with toddler in stroller

I shudder to think about finishing up my holiday shopping with my two- and three-year-olds playing Santa’s little elves, but the reality is that as we countdown the days until Christmas, I’ll be the one at the mall juggling shopping bags, pushing a double stroller and carrying a latte, wishing it was something stronger. Need a few holiday shopping tips so you can hang onto your sanity, even if by a thread? Try these!

Go at an “off time”

If you’re an at-home parent, trust me when I say this is a must-do holiday shopping tip for weekdays. Malls and other shopping centers are busiest around lunch and after work, so if you shop with your toddler between 9:00 and 11:00 in the morning or 1:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon, you’ll miss some of the overwhelming crowds.

Bring snacks. And bribery is sometimes acceptable

Talk about it!

Check out our parenting message boards and talk to other moms about holiday shopping right now!

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The holiday shopping tip that you cannot, under any circumstances, ignore is to bring snacks! Toddlers get hungry, and hungry toddlers mean cranky toddlers. And cranky toddlers mean…well, we all know. Nothing about that is good when you’re trying to remember everyone on your Christmas shopping list and find the perfect gifts.

>>Check out a list of healthy food for toddlers for suggestions.

And no judgment from me if this is one of those rare occasions where you buy a “special treat” to get you through the shopping trip. I don’t believe in using food for a reward on a daily basis (potty training and M & M’s excluded), but desperate times call for desperate measures. My little ones love soft pretzels, but don’t have them often, so when we make them a part of our shopping trip, it’s a big deal. As an added bonus, soft pretzels take a long time to eat because they require a lot of chewing!

Provide entertainment

I am not talking about the dance-on-your-head variety of entertainment, but a holiday shopping tip I recommend is filling your purse with a few fun items that your toddler doesn’t have access to every day.

Take a trip to the drug store or Dollar Store and keep your stash well-supplied. Pull out a few new items before your mall run so that you’re prepared to hand your toddler new toys to keep him entertained. (Tip: Make sure you buy age-appropriate toys.)

When all else fails, become judgment-proof

Perhaps you’ve taken all of these holiday shopping tips to heart, prepared extensively, done your best…and found yourself in the middle of Brooks Brothers with a two-year-old who is screaming because he absolutely must play with the foot massage contraption. (What is that thing, anyway?!)

Well, here’s my best holiday shopping tip yet: Ignore everyone. Disregard the looks, stares and comments muttered under random strangers’ breath. Finish up your shopping and leave, head held high. At some point, all toddlers have temper tantrums in public. Stay strong, moms!

Read more about stress-free holiday shopping

Real Mom’s Guide: Holiday shopping tips
8 Money saving tips for last minute Christmas shopping

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