Generally speaking holiday shopping with kids is anything but pleasant and peaceful, but all parents know sometimes you’ve just got to bring them along. I’ve developed a few tips based on my years of experience as a daddy that are sure to help make holiday shopping with kids an enjoyable experience.
Involve Them: First things first, involve your child in gifting decisions by having them brainstorm a few things each different family member might like to receive for Christmas. This process will encourage your child to be thoughtful while also feeling included in the shopping spree you’re essentially dragging them along on. Your child will be excited to pick things out, and they’ll be thrilled to watch the excitement unfold on Christmas day – knowing they’re a part of the fun. In the past I’ve designated my children “Santa’s Little Helpers” – because Santa is just too busy and he needs a little help picking up a few goodies before Christmas.
Have Some Fun: Find ways to make shopping kid friendly. When you’re inside of a store you can play “Name that Tune” and your children can try and figure out what Christmas carol is playing on the loud speaker. Let your child have the final say on gifts for other people by allowing them to decide between two gifts (you’ve picked out) or deciding between two different colors, etc. Just get creative and don’t forget to smile and laugh; Holiday shopping should be a fun experience – not an overwhelming hassle.
Explain Rules Ahead of Time: You need to have some ground rules set in place prior to heading out to shop. Don’t go crazy, but make sure your child knows that the stores are going to be extra busy and that it’s extremely important they remain next to you, that they don’t talk to strangers and that they don’t behave in an ill-mannered way by knocking things off shelves or breaking anything. Establish these rules in a quiet place ahead of time, so that your child knows what is expected of him once you’re inside the busy stores.
Make Time for Break Time: If your child is acting out or throwing a tantrum they might be overwhelmed, hungry or tired. Make sure you make time to take a break. If possible, take a break in a quiet place where your child can have a snack and maybe even a nap. I’ve also taken my kids to visit Santa on a break when shopping in the mall. Visiting Santa is a great end-of-the-day activity, too as kids will look forward to this, and it can even encourage a bit of extra good behavior when you’re heading into the late afternoon hours!
Include your children in the holiday shopping this year! Don’t forget to lay the ground rules ahead of time, but encourage laughter and fun, too!