Reader Tips: Christmas Shopping with Kids 

Yuletide shopping excursions need not be crazy-making for parents with young children.

“When I take my almost three-year-old daughter shopping, we play scavenger hunt. She loves stickers, so the first one of us who finds an item on my list gets a sticker. Of course it’s always her. This way she has fun and I get my shopping done.”

“I find that it works better to do our shopping early in the days before the stores get crowded. For any shopping with kids in tow, I keep an open schedule which allows time for a stop at the library or park, and I always carry snacks.“

“My mall has a daycare where you can drop kids off for a couple of hours. My children stay busy with games and crafts and I get to do my shopping with my sanity intact.”

“Buy as much as you can from catalogues. It is cheap and there are no crowds.”

“I let my toddler participate in the shopping process. First I cut out pictures of items from the store’s flyer to create a picture shopping list. Then at the store I ask my toddler to keep track of what has been found and how many items are left.”

“Each year, my mother, my daughter and I spend a few hours in a pottery store creating one-of-a-kind gifts for family and friends. We all have a great time!”

“Give your kids their own budget. Spending their own money on small, thoughtful gifts helps children to understand buying.”

“I carry a cellphone with me in case I have to call Santa’s hotline to report naughty girls and boys. This works like a charm.”

“Honestly, the best tip I would give is leave the children at home for most of your Christmas shopping. Take them on a day when you don’t have to rush around. That way you can spend time with them looking at toys and finding out what they want from Santa.”

“When our daughter was little, we would put her in the shopping cart and then put something big behind her so she couldn’t see what else we were putting in the cart.”

“Start early! I buy gifts as I see them when I’m out, even if it’s in July. This eliminates the last-minute rush, and the kids don’t feel the stress.”

“We always go Christmas shopping with a list. That way we remain focused.“
Originally published in Today’s Parent, December/January 2005