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4 min read ·

December arrived, and I had not set foot in a store or gone online to Christmas shop for family and friends. When I was growing up, my mother prided herself on finishing most of her Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving. Here I am, a mom of two, and I had not started. Anxiety was setting in, and I knew I would feel better if I could simply get to the stores and mark a few things off my list.

I needed to buy gifts for my two sons (ages 8 and 10), my husband, my parents, my grandmother, and my two nephews (ages 2 and 5) – as well as hostess gifts and teacher gifts. I headed to North Hills with my list in hand. My mission – to buy at least one gift for everyone before I picked up my boys at school. I had three and a half hours, and I would need to take a break for lunch.

First, I hit Starbucks in the Main District. What better way to start my Christmas shopping than by getting caffeinated with a latte in the iconic red holiday cup. While there, I was also able to grab gift cards for my sons’ teachers and Sunday school teachers.

With Christmas music playing in the background and my red cup in hand, I headed across the Commons to Omega Sports to shop for my two sports fanatics. The sales associate helped me find the right size football for my 10-year-old (Who knew footballs came in different sizes!), a Luke Kuechly Carolina Panthers jersey for my younger son, and Nike Elite socks for both.

Inspired by my first-stop shopping success, I headed to Paper Source to get a 2018 planner for my mom. Bingo! It was buy one, get one 50 percent off – so I purchased one for myself too. (My husband can put it in my stocking. He will thank me for doing his shopping, maybe.)

I cruised through JCPenney to see if they had any athletic wear that my boys might like. Instead, I found UNC Tar Heels sweatshirts on sale for my dad.

On to REI to buy a gift card for my husband’s stocking. I realize that gift-giving traditionalists think gift cards are lame, but it’s what he wants, and, honestly, I am not qualified to pick out camping equipment.

I am rolling at this point. I make my way down the escalators, drop my bags in the car, and head to Target. I am going to Target for only three gifts – bath towels for my grandmother and Star Wars Lego sets for each of my sons. However, I immediately get sidetracked by the display of fluffy, pink champagne-colored slipper socks near customer service. Three pairs go in the shopping cart – one for my mom, one for my grandmother, and, yes, one for me.

The Lego aisle has the two Star Wars sets I was looking for, and then I walk to electronics for gift inspiration for my sons. I check out the Polaroid cameras, GoPros, and new tablets. I begin to feel overwhelmed by the number of options, and I realize I have done absolutely no research on these products. I decide to leave electronics for another day – or maybe next Christmas.

One of the last main items on my list is ballet pink bath towels for my grandmother. They are easy to find, along with matching washcloths and hand towels. (Housewares was much less stress-inducing than the electronics department.)

At this point my feet are starting to hurt, I am hungry, and I only have an hour and a half left. I head to the Lassiter District to get a quick, healthy lunch at Grabbagreen and hit my three final stores.

First is Midtown Olive Oil for hostess gifts – my favorite flavors are Herbs de Provence, Gremolata, and Mushroom & Sage – so I get two of each, and I love the giftwrapping there. Now I will have gifts on hand for party hosts and friends who drop by during the holidays.

At Learning Express, I find Magna-Tiles for my 5-year-old nephew and a wooden doorbell house for my 2-year-old nephew. I love that Learning Express wraps too! If I had more time, I could walk over to The UPS Store and mail the gifts to Ohio, but the clock is ticking its countdown to carpool.

My final stop is Quail Ridge Books for Vivian Howard’s “Deep Run Roots” cookbook for my husband. (I hurried past the gorgeous holiday windows at Quintessentials, wishing I had time to go in.) “Deep Run Roots” is huge – nearly 600 pages. I am glad I do not have to carry it far. Now that it’s almost time for carpool, I pass on free giftwrapping at QRB and head to the car. It’s time to rush home and stash my loot in the attic so no one finds it.

Reflecting on my day, I feel a lot better about my Christmas shopping status than I did earlier that morning. Though I have not finished my shopping, I have made a great start, and I was able to achieve that all in one place (no driving all over town) in just a few hours. Now that’s something to celebrate this holiday season!

Check back here later this week for the second installment of this shopper’s guide series as a college student takes on holiday shopping at North Hills from her perspective.

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