When you are short on time or energy, shopping can be a chore any time of year, but the holidays are especially challenging!

Here are a few tips that we hope will make things go more smoothly on your next trip.

  • Make a list.  It’s easy to think you will remember what you need, but with all of the distractions of traffic, crowds, and tempting displays, without a list, you could easily find yourself at home without the very thing you needed most!
  • Eat a healthy meal before you leave your home to give you strength.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Dress in layers so that you won’t freeze outside or become overheated once you’re inside.
  • Make every effort to go when the stores are less crowded. Pick a weekday, and if possible, avoid lunchtime, when schools in your area let out, and the after work/before dinner rush.  Things are usually much calmer before 11 am and after 7:30 pm. You’ll be much more efficient when you are able to get into the aisles you need, and you’ll have far fewer headaches.  (Otherwise adorable children are less-than-pleasant to be around when they are exhausted and hungry!)
  • For errands you do regularly, try to pick the same stores to use each time. Different stores (even of the same company) put things in different places, so you have to hunt for what you need.  Knowing that your favorite brand of X can be found on the second shelf in the middle of aisle 12, saves a lot of unnecessary time and effort.
  • Pick the same basic area to park in each time you go, even if it means parking a little farther away sometimes.  Knowing you always park on the east side of the store, for example, saves a lot of hunting for your car while pushing a full cart or carrying heavy bags.  
  • Bring a calculator to easily compare unit prices. One with large numbers that are easy to read and punch is easier to use.
  • If you have issues with dexterity, just before you get in line to pay, estimate how much it will be and pull out an appropriate bill or card.  This saves time and stress at the register. Trying to rush when people are waiting on you often makes it harder to get your fingers to do what you want.  Then stop at one of the handy benches they often have by the registers or doors to put things away in your wallet and get out your car keys.
  • To keep items from rolling around in the trunk, lightly tie shopping bags closed by the handles.
  • Keep a cooler in the trunk for things that need to stay cool on the way home.
  • Bring low sodium, lowfat cheese sticks to keep your strength up and avoid impulse candy purchases.  Drink plenty of water.
  • When shopping for gifts that are on someone’s wish list, ask the recipient about the best place to find the item.  Often during the holidays we are shopping for things that are out of our areas of expertise, so doing this will save time.
  • Do as much shopping online as you can. (Many smaller locally-owned stores have online shopping these days.) Having items shipped directly to your house or the gift recipient can save a lot of time and energy.  
  • Even if you want to buy something in person, look up reviews and other information for products online before heading off to the store. When you’ve decided what you want, call ahead to be sure they have it, and ask them to hold it for you so they don’t sell out before you get there.
  • In previous years, you might have been able to do marathon shopping sessions, but if you are now dealing with health challenges, that is not the best idea.  Plan ahead and prioritize. Buy the most important things first, and then if you don’t have the energy to do it all on this trip, you can put off the rest.  (Start the process as early as you can so that you can make a few trips if needed.)