Have a gift list to shop for and checked it thrice? You have a ton of shopping to do, and you're not one to do so online. You're a brave, strong soul that thrives on the whole holiday shopping experience in person. You are about to battle your way through a mall, and like any test of wit and strength, you need a good plan if you want to get out alive.
This is where I step in, however briefly, assuming the role of your trusted advisor before your battle, and give some tidbits that might make this season all the more brighter for you!
Collect all the gift cards and coupons
Before heading out, make sure you have all of the gift cards you've amassed over the years in hand. Every little bit will help your tight budget, and that $25 Old Navy gift card is not going to help you out if it's sitting in your desk at home.
Also, make sure you know the exact amounts available to you for each card before handing them to the cashier.
Stores tend to have great offers available this time of year, so that you'd rather go them instead of their competitors. Check your email, or store websites to see what promotions are available to you.
For instance, if you're a VIB or VIB Rouge fan of Sephora, you have a $20 coupon (when you spend $50 or more) until December 13 sitting in your email. Use it or lose it.
There are chances that none of the cashiers you'll meet this month will give you the best discount available to you when it's time to cash out, 'cause they've been doing this for weeks, and OMG they just want to go home already.
So make sure you've got that sh*t written down somewhere, especially if you're going to have to remind someone that your purchase is meant to be 30% off, and your budget will love you.
Use FREE Valet Parking
It doesn't matter which mall you'll go to when the holiday season is upon us. An empty parking space is as precious and nearly as mythical as the unicorn when everyone is shopping for presents.
Save your sanity from a potential 45-minute drive around a parking lot desperately looking for space (#TrueStory), and budget for valet parking if offered at your favourite mall. The amount of time it will take to find a good parking spot vs the cost of valet may very well be worth the extra few dollars added to your trip budget.
OR, if you're an RBC Avion Cardholder, get all the valet parking you want at Yorkdale mall for FREE this season. Yes, FREE. As in, let someone else take care of finding a parking spot for your car at no cost, while you work your magic in the mall, and gift yourself an extra 45 minutes to get your list taken care of.
If you're not an Avion Cardholder, but want to be, visit the Avion Holiday Boutique at Yorkdale to sign up for the card and get all of the boutique's perks right on the spot! Take advantage of the free valet service before you have your temporary Avion member card in hand (not a credit card, you'll get that in the mail when everything checks out with Avion at a later date.)
Having someone else warm up your car, especially if you're going to be laden down with packages after a five-hour campaign from multiple stores, will be a huge benefit to you if the day was a cold one.
Know Your Mall, and Map Out Your Excursion
If you've ever shopped at Yorkdale Mall in Toronto, you may have witnessed the nice, cozy shopping centre turn into an EPICLY MASSIVE style icon over the last few years. The brands available to you are both exciting, and perhaps frightening depending on your budget.
I still have the "old" layout mapped out in my head, and even went as far as stopping by this past weekend thinking that the Bombay and Company was still a tenant there. Oops.
Check out your mall's store directory online, and see if you can find a map that will tell you where all of the shops are. You will be seriously less stressed if you're not standing in the heart of the potentially complex structure and have no clue which way Nordstrom is. Write out a plan of which stores to go to, and when, and you'll be better prepared.
Being that prepared will limit the stress of "Okay, where am I going to go now?"
Stress is easily built to immense proportions simply from walking around the mall five times to only visit three different stores.
Let's not do that, m'kay?
If You're Going to See Santa, Go Early In the Day
Expect to wait hours if you go when everyone else does.
I get it. Getting the kids to do anything remotely in your favour in the morning is a trial, but take that challenge head-on and bring them to the mall right when it opens for the day.
Side note: check out your mall's website to ensure that Santa's hours are the same as mall hours... 'cause they might not be.
Also, Santa might have pet hours too, if you want a pic of your fur-baby with Santa.
At Yorkdale "regular" ol' Santa's hours are:
November 12 – December 23
Monday– Saturday: 10:30a.m. – 8:30p.m. | Sunday: 10:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
There is also apparently a Sensitive Santa, perhaps for kids who are too anxious to see the Santa-Santa? *shrugs* This one is new for me. If you know who "Sensitive Santa" is, please let me know! I have one nephew who will not sit on Santa's lap, because Stranger.
Henry is all, "What are you doing leaving me with this guy, auntie?? Come back nooooowwwwwwww."
Sensitive Santa will be available: December 10 from 8:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m. (URGH, EARLY!)
Yorkdale also had Fashion Santa in the house this past Saturday for all the selfies. Check out #YorkdaleFashionSanta2017 for some amazing pics!
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a "fashion Santa" @yorkdalestyle ?! thoughts ?!! 🎅 ・・・ Look who’s in town! For every selfie taken with #YorkdaleFashionSanta2017, we will donate $1 to the SickKids Foundation. You can find him near Harry Rosen until 6pm🎅 @sickkidstoronto #CentreOfStyle #YorkdaleStyle #YorkdaleCheer #toronto #yyz #yorkdale #mall #fall #igtoronto #inspiration #shop #instagood #igcanada #blogger #shopping #weekend #pretty #exclusive #torontolife #santa #holiday #blondeBLAKE #REGHANBLAKE #TO #toronto #canada #ontario #mall #mallsanta #fashion #style
Professional Gift Wrapping
If you've got a time crunch, or have a gift that you absolutely do not want to chance the recipient seeing before it's time to unwrap it, find out if your mall, or any of the stores within, are offering gift wrapping.
A tip from my mom, always ask the store you're making a purchase from if they have boxes that they can give you. Every time we would stop at The Bay (or Sears, or Eatons back in the day,) she would always ask for a few clothes boxes, no matter what it was that she was shopping for. Those boxes always came in handy for those awkwardly shaped gifts that could use a few good right angles to make gift wrapping more stress-free.
PRO Tip: free gift wrapping at Yorkdale!
Go to the Avion Boutique and use their free gift wrapping service. I used this service last year, and absolutely loved how beautifully (and sometimes artistically) the packages were wrapped. I totally took the credit for the pretty wrapping too.
If you're an Avion cardholder, then you qualify for five free gift wrappings a day.
If you're not a member, that's okay too. Download their app, and when you're at Yorkdale mall, fill out their guest member form and enjoy five free wrapped gifts for that day. Make sure you aren't too proactive and join the day before you're planning to shop, because your free gift wrap is only valid for that specific day.
Add Time for a Coffee/Tea Break
Holiday shopping is an exercise in patience. You might run out of your limited supply within the first hour. (#TrueStory)
Make sure your battle plan includes contingency, and strategic withdrawals to your favourite place(s) for a moment of peace.
Again, if your mall happens to be Yorkdale, RBC Avion cardholders have access to free refreshments (coffee, David's Tea, and hot chocolate,) and a super comfortable place to sit and take a load off when needed, (which is likely, always).
For A Good Time at Yorkdale This Holiday
For the best holiday shopping experience at Yorkdale:
- Hand your car keys to the valet for free parking, and then find the RBC Avion Holiday Boutique across from Holt Renfrew as your first stop at the mall.
- Check your coat, and winter gear (also parcels if you have any on hand).
- With your map and gift cards in hand, do an hour of shopping. If you can last for more than an hour, go for it, but don't overdo it, especially if you're not carrying a bottle of water around with you.
- Come back to the Avion Holiday Boutique, and either drop your current set of parcels at coat check, or sign those gifts up for free gift wrapping. To keep your mind, body and spirit at peaks levels, keep yourself replenished with your choice of free liquid (coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or water,) and frequents rests for your tired feet on a comfy chair.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 as many times as you need to get your list completed!
- Need your phone charged? Ask the main desk at the Avion Holiday Boutique to borrow a battery charger while you're taking a much needed break.
- Give the valet a call 15 minutes ahead of time, through the Avion Boutique app, so that your car is ready for you when you're ready to head out.
Are you preparing for holiday shopping at your mall? What are your favourite ways to un-stress the situation each year?
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by RBC Avion in a partnership with Geek with Style to provide you the most up to date facts, helping you make better-informed decisions. All opinions in this article are my own.