A 5-Step Survival Guide to Meltdown-Free Holiday Shopping

A 5-Step Survival Guide to Meltdown-Free Holiday Shopping
A 5-Step Survival Guide to Meltdown-Free Holiday Shopping

You know the drill. It's already December. There are gifts to buy. One more important than the rest. I'm speaking, of course, about the one for your wife. But there's a catch. Not only do you have to buy a gift for her. You also have to buy your children's gifts for her, too.

Which, of course, brings you to another catch. How to execute this mission - which could take hours - without your children melting down. And my partners in crime for such expeditions are five-year-old triplets. Which, you know, presents challenges. Exactly why, though, I've come up with a fool-proof, five-step plan. If you, too, will be shopping with your kids, you might wanna take a peek.

1. Come up with a game plan
You know what the best game plan is? To knock this stuff out online. But then, of course, your children wouldn't feel as if they were part of the process. At least mine wouldn't. Which means that visiting an actual store (gasp) or mall (double gasp) is a must. This, of course, means that you have to have a game plan. Without it, you're destined for misery. So figure out (a) exactly what you want to get her and (b) exactly what types of things your children will want to get her.

Related: 12 awesome holiday gifts for adults -- all under $50!

2. Come up with your itinerary
For me, I always just settle on the mall. Primarily because that way I only have one main destination (albeit with sub-destinations) instead of multiple destinations. So this year, I know exactly what I want to get my wife and, what's more, I know exactly where to get it. I also know what types of gifts my children would like to get her. One will probably want to get her something athletic, while another will probably skew a bit more fru-fru. And the third is a foodie and would likely prefer to give her something pertaining to culinary endeavors. This means that in addition to my stop, I'm basically planning for three more. But that's okay. Because at least I now have my itinerary.

3. Snacks
Don't be a rookie. One key to multiple-locale shopping with little ones is to make certain they have snacks to look forward to. In my case, this means the food court. But only after we've completed our first transaction. You know, so as to incentivize the deal.

4. Entertainment

Kids are funny, right? Even with a tight gameplan, a reasonable itinerary and a little snacky-snack, they can still come undone by the daunting task of spending a couple of hours in pursuit of one deliverable. (Gifts for mom, in this case.) Which is exactly why in addition to snacks, I've also made time for a little entertainment. Sadly, for me that means the germ-infested kiddie land at the mall. Here's the catch, though. They will only be permitted this entertainment break once all but one of the four gifts have been purchased. Again, incentivization to stay on task.

5. That's a wrap

Why not consummate your outing with a little wrap-up session? Sure, one option is to just get your gifts wrapped at the store. But since I have multiple presents to buy, and since there will be both a food break and an entertainment break, I worry that the gift wrapping will get all jacked during our outing. Plus, my guys feel more part of the process if they see it all the way through. And if you follow these five steps, you, too, will have seen your process all the way through. The process of meltdown-free holiday shopping.

- By John Cave Osborne

For 10 things you can do NOW to plan ahead for a stress-free holiday season, visit Babble!

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John Cave Osborne is a writer whose work has appeared on such sites as Babble, TLC, YahooShine and the Huffington Post. John went from carefree bachelor to father of four in just 13 months after marrying a single mom then quickly conceiving triplets. Since then, they have added one more to the mix, a little boy they named Grand Finale.

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