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How to manage shopping trips with tots in tow

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Holiday shopping has changed considerably since the dawn of the Information Age. Whereas holiday shopping once required shoppers to spend hours perusing stores at the local mall, nowadays many shoppers get the bulk of their shopping done online.

Shopping online may be convenient, but more traditional holiday shopping still affords shoppers the chance to find great deals, especially at the last minute. Parents may prefer to leave the kids at home when holiday shopping, but sometimes they don’t have a choice. Fortunately, there are ways to manage holiday shopping trips with kids in tow.

  • Encourage kids to create shopping lists. Keeping kids engaged on holiday shopping trips can be difficult, especially when shopping at stores that tend to draw crowds and long lines. But parents can engage youngsters by encouraging them to create their own holiday shopping lists for family members and then helping them find those gifts at the mall or wherever they plan to do their holiday shopping. Let kids bring their lists along and check off gifts as they purchase them.
  • Let kids do their own shopping. In addition to creating lists, let kids do their own shopping, including paying for gifts they purchase for loved ones. Kids might be more interested when holiday shopping if they’re allowed to peruse stores for potential gifts and then purchase gifts with their own money.
  • Break up shopping excursions with a meal. Kids enjoy dining out, even if their preferences lean more toward chicken fingers than steak au poivre. By breaking up shopping excursions with meals out on the town, parents can give kids something to look forward to at the onset of the shopping day. Such a break also gives everyone, moms and dads included, a chance to get off their feet and catch their breath. When the meal is over, promise kids a trip to get some ice cream or hot chocolate at the end of the day so they once again have something to look forward to.
  • Schedule some fun time. While parents pressed for time might not have much time to do anything but shop, kids are likely to grow impatient if the day does not include at least one fun distraction. Look for malls or shopping centers that feature fun things for kids to do, such as carousel rides or visits with Santa Claus. While this might require parents to spend more time at the mall or shopping center than they initially hoped, it can help keep kids engaged while giving them something fun to do at the same time.

Parents who must take their kids along on holiday shopping excursions can take steps to make such trips fun for all involved.

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