As someone who left a retail job less than a month ago, here are some tips I have to help ease the tension over holiday shopping!

If you are a true holiday-shopping professional, you already had your gifts bought and wrapped by December 1st. This is not for you.

These "do's and don'ts" are for people, like me, who said "oh I've got time" too many times in the past few weeks and are now scrambling to check everyone off their list!

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    What You Can Do:

    Make sure you've had breakfast, lunch or a light snack before you venture out to stores.
    Shopping while hangry is never fun.

    Mentally prepare.
    It will be busy and if crowds are not your thing, go earlier in the day or just remember your stress ball, breathing techniques or whatever else to just make it through.

    Try to make light of the chaos.
    Joke with the people around you. "Looks like we all are in the same boat here" while you wait half an hour to check out is a way to break the tension you may feel.

    Understand retail stores can only have so many people working at a time, and even fully-staffed, their employees are working twice as hard.
    They are not "unprepared" for the busy season and often actually hired brand new people for help with the holidays. Those employees may move slower, but in retail another body is another person there to help customers like yourself.

    Read all the fine print on whatever coupon or sale deal you are trying to utilize.
    It will save you the time and the stress once you get up to the register only to be told it is not valid.

    Try to enjoy it!
    Sometimes it can be a crazy adrenaline rush and sure, it can be exhausting, but once you find that perfect gift, it will all be worth it!

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    What You Shouldn't Do:

    Get angry with a store employee for something outside of their control.
    It is not their fault it's busy and they are just as anxious as you are to make sure you are happy.

    Make passive-aggressive comments to or about other shoppers, the staff, etc.
    You are all there for the same reason and it just makes the experience even more negative for all involved.

    Don't use your shopping cart or other big items as a battering ram to get through crowds.
    That's just rude.

    Once an employee tells you something you are asking of them is actually against store policy, freaking out or asking for the manager will get you the same answer 99% of the time.
    Also the staff will talk about how horrible you were as soon as you leave, 100% of the time.

    Let the pressure of time get to you.
    If you want to take a second to look at a treat for yourself or stop and get some mall pretzels, do it! It will give you time to regroup and all that pressure is probably what makes you anxious about holiday shopping in the first place. Make a day of it!

    Don't give up.
    All too often we see people say "I'm over this, I'm not dealing with all of this anymore today." If you have hit that breaking point, maybe you should stick with online shopping!

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