Four ways to find your fa-la-la

Forget shop-‘til-you-drop; how to survive holiday marathon shopping

If you’re a highly organized person who starts buying next year’s gifts as soon as the post-holiday clearance sales begin, this will be of no interest to you.

However, if you’re prone to do-or-die last-minute holiday shopping like many of us, these tips can help you get the job done with energy and goodwill to spare.

Make a list, and check it more than twice

You may think “just winging it” is fine, but this is how you end up with an empty wallet and a whopping credit card balance. It’s also how someone winds up with an expensive but ugly sweater that still has the tags on it when it’s donated to charity.

Before you even think of leaving the house, make a master list. Figure out who you’re shopping for, what they may like or want, and what amount you plan to spend. List the stores you need to visit, then map out the best route to efficiently reach them.

Remember, you can save time and footsteps by shopping for some items online. Many e-tailers offer delivery — often free — up to Christmas Eve, so use this to your advantage.

Eat smart to go the distance

It’s hard to shop sensibly when you’re hungry. Moreover, for those prone to blood sugar swings, a day of shopping on an empty stomach or after eating sugary, high-carbohydrate foods can trigger low blood sugar or even a dangerous crash.

According to Jennifer Kyser, registered dietitian, Norton Weight Management Services, it’s best to start the day with good protein and healthy carbohydrates. Wise choices include oatmeal made with skim milk, fruit and yogurt; an omelet; or multigrain toast with peanut butter.

“Steer away from sugar. Try to stay under a total of 10 grams,” Kyser said.

Recharge at lunch with a protein-rich salad with chicken or a turkey-avocado wrap. Avoid carbohydrate-rich foods, such as pizza and fries.

Drink plenty of water. On average, adults need 64 ounces of fluid daily. Getting dehydrated can make you feel fatigued and foggy. Caffeinated drinks are OK, according to Kyser, but avoid sugary specialty coffee drinks.

Carry an “emergency” snack. Kyser suggests a protein bar, but again, go for a low-sugar option. Skip granola bars that are loaded with energy-zapping sugar.

“We eat a lot of added sugars we’re just not aware of,” she said.

Dress — and rest — for success

Comfortable shoes are a must. Remember, you’ve got a lot of ground to cover. Painful feet are the easiest way to derail shopping.

Dress in layers. Large crowds and tightly packed stores can ramp up the heat; trips back and forth to your car can turn it down again. Be prepared to adjust as needed.

Avoid wearing an oversized coat if possible. Many malls offer free storage lockers, so think about using one to store your coat if you have to wear one. Store extra packages there too, so you have less to carry.

Take periodic breaks. If you’re doing a really great job staying on schedule, reward yourself with a chair massage. Or relax briefly and listen to carolers or a choir, which many shopping venues feature during the holidays.

Mind your dollars and cents

Stop at the bank and get what cash you’ll need. Research shows you spend less when you shop with cash. Get larger bills, such as 50s or 100s, because you’re less likely to break them for unnecessary purchases. Curb impulse buys by leaving your credit cards at home.

Buy less expensive gifts first. Some research has shown you tend to lose perspective on what’s a good buy once you shell out big bucks for something pricey. For example, after you’ve paid $399 for a PlayStation VR, spending $55 for a Furby that you could have gotten for $45 no longer fazes you.

Ultimately, take heart knowing most people care more about the sentiment of a gift than its price tag. Often, the gifts people value most — kindness, caring and time with one another — can’t be bought at any price.


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