The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
Shopping is one of the unfortunate realities of the holiday season – and for non-shoppers like me, it's one of the most stressful times of the year.
But, as someone who braved the malls on one of the busiest shopping days of the year, I have a few shopping tips that other non-shoppers might want to know to make checking off that Boxing Day shopping list as easy as possible.
Earlier this year, I endured the wilds of Black Friday in one of the busiest malls in Canada and my experience taught me how to best navigate the hectic crowds of the post-Christmas and Boxing Day sales.
From getting there early to having a concrete plan, here's what I think you should do before hitting your favourite store on December 26.
Ask yourself if you really need to go
A Roots store.
One thing I noticed when I went out on Black Friday was that many shops actually offered the exact same discounts that they did online.
So, before heading out, check the websites of your favourite brands. There's a chance you might be able to skip the in-person shopping experience altogether and get everything done from the comfort of your own home.
But, that's not the case for all stores and some may have in-person-only deals.
Have a plan
As someone once said, a bad plan is better than no plan at all!
If you want to get in and out as fast as you can, come prepared with a game plan for what stores you want to shop at, what products you're specifically looking for and how much you're willing to pay.
That way you can – theoretically – knock everything off your list as fast as you can without any issues.
Get there early
The mall early in the morning.
The early bird really does get the worm. And in this case, by a worm, I mean lack of crowds and pick of the litter.
Most people will hit up stores later in the day, especially if they have to work, so getting there as close to opening as possible will set you up right.
When I went on Boxing Day, I got there at roughly 9 a.m. and the mall I was at was incredibly chilled out.
If I was doing some serious shopping, I could have had everything done with limited lining up within the hour.
So, if you can, get there early! And, it's worth checking if your local mall or stores are operating for extended hours during peak sales periods.
This is the mantra of the modern age, but hydration really is important!
If you're walking around a mall or a store when the sales are on, things can get busy, hot and stressful, so guzzle some water to make the experience a whole lot more pleasant.
Plus, it's a whole heck of a lot better than buying a water bottle for $4! On my Black Friday shopping day, I really wished I had brought a drink because I was starting to get extremely parched.
Figure out which stores are busiest
A busy Sephora store.
Knowing what places are going to be most crowded is an important part of your holiday shopping journey.
Of course, it's hard to know which stores will be most crowded, however, in my experience some of the most popular stores are Sephora, Pandora and the Apple Store.
Big stores like Best Buy are also liable to be on the busy side. But, sometimes it's a guessing game. So, use your common sense!
Dress for the occasion
Another more practical tip, but when you're shopping during the winter I found that it's best to dress in layers.
Nothing is worse than coming in from the frigid Canadian cold into a warm, sweltering store and sweating because you have dressed too warmly.
Things will be a lot easier if you have a few layers that you can take off and put on as you jump between hot and cold on your shopping journey.
And, as a shout-out to the many retail workers who have to be there before opening and after closing, please be nice to everyone working on these busy shopping days.
These employees need to be in the thick of it for hours on end, so have a bit of patience with them and understand that they're just trying their best – and may be missing out on family time during the holidays so you can grab a bargain.
And, if that's not incentive enough, if you're nice to the employees there's a good chance that they'll be nice right back and help you out a little more eagerly.
Oh, and if they're being rude to you, maybe you deserve it (kidding, but not actually).
Hopefully, with these shopping tips, you can go out and get what you need, and maybe even save some money along the way.
And, if you're looking to save even more this year, there are a bunch of great tips out there from experts to help you get meaningful gifts for others without breaking the bank.
Happy shopping, Canada!