Christmas decorations - santa suits

Top 10 tips to avoid shopping line-ups

Believe it or not, it is possible to avoid long retail lines during the Christmas shopping season. See the tips below to ensure a smooth experience this Holiday.

1. Use catalogues and/or the Internet whenever possible and thereby avoid lines completely! Currently, you can now buy almost everything on the web: books, music, CD's, electronic toys, videos, clothes, cameras, and even cars!

2. If you must, get to the mall at opening hours or near closing, but avoid midday "shopping rush hours."

3. Be savvy at finding a parking space. In general, go to the section of the parking lot that is as far as possible from the most popular entrance.

4. Make each trip to the mall multi-purpose, with several gift purchases planned. Write a list and plan your route when you get there.

5. Reduce or eliminate purchases from stores that make you stand in two or more lines for a single purchase. Buy gifts in bulk when possible.

6. Avoid stores that queue customers separately in parallel lines. Parallel lines require shoppers to play stressful games of "queue calculus" to guess which line will move fastest. Queue calculus has mostly losing players!

7. If you're shopping in a department store, assemble as many purchases as possible for one point of sale transaction. For instance, in the men's section, bring all the men's gifts you plan to purchase to one register a single time, and get it all over with at once.

8. If you must join a gift-wrap line, arrange to wrap all your purchases at one time. You can always buy your own gift wrap or gift bags (easier!) and wrap gifts in the privacy of your own home.

9. Leave plenty of time to mail your presents from the post office or other service provider. Don't wait for the widely publicized last day "guaranteed" pre-Christmas delivery. Avoid Saturday morning and lunch hour trips to the post office.

10. Buy supplies early! Purchase stamps, wrapping paper, tape, and everything you will need the week before Thanksgiving. Help Santa out by being well prepared. Avoid the need to buy these materials on Dec. 24th!!!