Nightmare Before Christmas: The Mall Survival Guide
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Nightmare Before Christmas: The Mall Survival Guide

Photo by karlofun from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.
So Christmas is a week from… yesterday? Well, shit. Might be time to get on that gift-buying thing. If you’re like us, you can count the number of shopping days left on one hand and the number of presents you’ve bought on the other—including three bottles of wine, two of which you will be driven to drink yourself after spending a mere ten last-minute minutes in the Eaton Centre of Hell.
We’d love to tell you to stick to your friendly neighbourhood retailers and avoid the maul, er, mall altogether, but we know how impossible such advice is to follow. Your best friend wants “something from Sephora,” your bratty cousin will throw a tantrum if she doesn’t get her TNA toque, and the local bookstore refuses to carry that Brian Mulroney book your dad insists he wants.
So, with a sigh and a shrug, Torontoist presents a few tips on surviving the inevitable.

How to Get Your Last-Minute Mall Shopping Done and Still Live to the New Year

1. Don’t just make a list—make a map. If you plan your excursion from one end of the mall to the other, you’ll save valuable crowd-navigating time (and maybe even your arguably less valuable sanity).
2. Bring a partner. Bribe if you must. You need a friend to hold your place in the checkout line at Chapters-Indigo—a line so long, so totally out of control! that there is an employee whose sole job it is to direct traffic to the cashiers—while you run around grabbing recommended reads off the shelves. (Who needs taste, or time, when you’ve got Heather to do your picking?)
3. Ignore your little sister’s wish list and stay the hell out of Hollister. And, for that matter, Abercrombie. Besides selling the same hoodies and henleys year after year, both stores are guilty of dousing their overpriced merchandise in “cologne” that smells like ninth-grade locker room sex. If you don’t pass out from the heat of all those hyper-hormonal bodies crowded between the sale racks, that smell will probably do it. Proceed at your own risk.
4. Extra, extra hours! Eaton’s, Yorkdale and Dufferin Mall all have extended holiday shopping hours: 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. instead of the usual 10 to 9. If you can make it, the early half hour is your best bet, as teenagers are sleeping in and middle-agers are at the office.
5. The downside to morning shopping? Yummy mummies, over-confidently strollering around in the belief that their reproductive tendencies give them automatic right of way at The Bay. We say, get a stroller of your own. Stick a Cabbage Patch Kid in there with a blanket, assume an expression of Mother Superiority, and who’s the wiser? Just think, you’ll have room to store your purchases, room to roam the aisles… come on, we dare you.
6. Tylenol. Maximum strength. Two each hour. One extra for every ten minutes you spend hunting for an officially licensed Dunder Mifflin mousepad for your office Secret Santa.
Good luck, and don’t forget the gift wrap.