UNITED STATES—Have you gotten gifts for everyone on your Christmas list? I would love to say I have, but nope, I still have 1 person to get a gift for: my mom. It seems every single year she is always that last person on my list that I have to purchase a gift for. She is so difficult to buy before because I honestly never know what to get.

This leaves me scouring the mall all the way up to Christmas Eve hoping I can locate the perfect gift, and frustrated that I have not found what I deem the perfect gift or the gift that I am satisfied with giving my mother. Here is the thing about going to the mall, especially during the Christmas holiday: plan ahead. Why? The mall can be a frustrating place.

Some malls are busier than others, so always be aware of that. Certain stores are known to draw certain crowds more than others, so don’t ever expect to be in and out at most retailers around this time of year. Pack your patience and stay calm even if at times you want to explode because the person ahead of you is taking a massive amount of time to handle their payment or complete their order.  You will be in line and you will have to wait.

There are ways to get around the hustle and bustle of the busy retail season. Go to the stores early. Be at that store of choice as soon as the doors open because this allows you a bit more time to roam the store freely without feeling like a ton of people are hovering over your every move. In addition, you have more help at your fingertips during opening hours versus the store becoming very busy later in the day.

Bring comfortable walking shoes. Your feet will get tired from walking especially if you’re moving from one store over the next to find that gift that will satisfy you completely. Bring a partner or a shopping buddy as I like to call it. You might not know what to get that person on your list that you struggle to find the perfect gift for year after year, so someone close to you rather a family member or a friend might have an idea of the item that could be perfect.  Also it is fun bouncing ideas off others. They might help you consider an item you never thought about, while you give them an idea of potential options.

Be prepared to pay more if you wait till the last minute. Yes, you’re not going to find some epic deal a day or two before Christmas. I have yet to every see such a thing happen with retailers. Why? THEY KNOW PEOPLE WILL BE SHOPPING ALL THE WAY UP TILL CHRISTMAS which means, they want to squeeze every single penny possible from the consumer to help their overall bottom line. Plan to finish your shopping the week before Christmas if you want to save money because if you wait till the last minute your wallet and bank account will pay for it.

Try to remain positive and think positive even though the stress might get to you at some point. The holidays are supposed to be fun, but they can be extremely difficult for those who lost loves ones during this time of year. Be considerate of that and don’t revel too much not considering the feelings of those in your orbit who might be struggling a bit. Don’t go shopping hungry! Eat something as it will give you that fuel of the hustle and bustle as you aim to find the perfect item at a price that doesn’t break the bank people.