How to outsmart the mall: 5 ways to get through holiday shopping without losing your mind

It’s holiday season: get ready for crowded malls, long line-ups and parking-spot stakeouts (try not to get arrested for fighting over a parking spot, like these Toronto-area shoppers).

The holiday shopping season can lead to tears, shouting matches and general exhaustion — but there are ways to buy all your gifts without losing your mind!

Here are five clever ways to outsmart the mall:

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail

To avoid headaches and holiday blues, don’t be a last-minute shopper. The Christmas Eve dash to the mall is never a good idea: you’ll face crowds, limited stock and your own stress over getting the job done.

The easy fix: set your priorities early. Use your logical smarts to calculate what your spending limits will be, organize your shopping list and execute it with a clear mind.

A representative from BMO says planning your holiday shopping ahead of time also helps avoid overspending.

“The pressure of last-minute shopping can cause shoppers to make impulse decisions and often spend more than necessary,” he says. “Set a budget for each family member that will help you set a realistic expectation and ensure you don’t overspend.”

Work it out!

The gym isn’t the only place to exercise — treat your shopping trip like a workout.

Take the stairs instead of taking the escalator or elevator. If you aren’t able to find a parking spot near the mall entrance, don’t be afraid to park further away and walk. Challenge your friends to walk-offs: who can rack up the most steps on their holiday shopping trips?

Using your physical smarts will pay off — by helping to reduce stress and protect against high blood pressure, weight gain and clogged arteries.

(Photo credit: TommL/Getty Images)

Avoid the mall and shop online

If you’re ahead of the game, online shopping is a great alternative to shopping at the mall. Not only are you avoiding crowded malls, but you can get better deals.

Check out these online shopping tips from CBC Life:

  • Sign up for store newsletters, deals and alerts: let the deals come to you
  • Use an all-in-one deals site like
  • Get free shipping

By shopping online, you’re also saving money in other areas that count, like gas and your time. Shop at home, multitask and get your gifts delivered to your front door without all the hassle.

(Photo Credit: Johnnie Davis/ Getty Images)

Don’t buy gifts – make them

Who says you have to buy a gift? Channel your inner Santa’s elf and use your social and visual smarts to make something special for friends and family.

According to a recent study, homemade items had a greater appeal to the gift recipient than mass-produced items. The findings suggest that homemade items were better received because they showed effort, love and originality.

Stay on top of your bills

First comes the holiday season — then comes post-holiday credit card debt.

Last year, a CIBC poll found that paying down debt remains the top financial priority for Canadians. The poll found that 26 per cent of respondents named debt reduction as their key financial goal for 2016, the sixth straight year it's topped the list.

It’s important to stay on top of your credit card fees if you want to be stress-free in January. Use your logical smarts to pay your bills on time, stay below your credit limit and avoid unnecessary fees. Be sure to set a budget for all your costs, put the payment dates in a calendar and set a reminder on your phone, so you don’t miss them.

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