holiday shopping

The crowds, the hustle and bustle, and the often-inclement weather can make holiday shopping not always the most pleasant of experiences. But the older you get, heading to the stores at this time of year could also put you in harm’s way. Check out this advice as you check those names off your list this holiday season:

Stay home

If you have a computer, use it! Shopping online is the least stressful—and safest—way to buy gifts for everyone from your spouse right down to your dog. No one will know that you didn’t elbow your way through a throng of angry shoppers to purchase it.

Shop when others aren’t in the stores

For those gifts you can only pick out in a brick-and-mortar store, avoid peak times like evenings, weekends and lunchtimes when there are more obstacles in your path (namely other shoppers) and longer lines at the registers.

Know your limitations

There are no prizes for the shopper who walks the furthest! Take the opportunity to get off your feet as often as you can, and if you use a cane or a walker, be sure to bring it along or borrow or rent a mobility scooter offered by the store or mall. And don’t overdo it; there’s always tomorrow (unless it’s Christmas Eve, of course)!

Practice the buddy system

It’s smart to bring a shopping partner along to carry your heavy packages, wait in long lines and simply be a second set of eyes and ears to keep you safe. If you offer to let an older grandchild pick out one of their gifts, you’ll probably have no trouble getting a young back and pair of legs to help you out for a few hours.

Tread carefully

If the weather outside is frightful, don’t risk going out in it. But even if there’s just a little rain falling or slush on the ground, watch out for slippery patches both outside and in (from shoppers’ wet feet).

Park safely

Park as close to the store as possible. If you have to shop after dark, be sure to find a space in a well-lit area that’s also close to other cars (that should be no problem at this time of year!).

Be aware of your surroundings

When returning to your car after shopping, keep your wits about you. If someone appears to be watching or following you, head straight back into the store and find a security guard to escort you. Once you’re at your car, don’t fumble with your keys or dawdle with your packages. Get in and lock up as quickly as you can!

Share your tips for safer holiday shopping in the comments below!