With Thanksgiving falling on November 25 this year, there are only 29 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. While many people may have already started picking out gifts, others are still compiling shopping lists and figuring out what “perfect gift” to get each person. It’s a busy time of year, so here are some suggestions to make your shopping experience more enjoyable:

Shop early. Why wait until the holiday season to start your buying? A gift purchase can be made at anytime. Watch for store specials and take advantage of pre-holiday values or discounts. For instance, if you’re on vacation or shopping for a birthday in the coming weeks and see something that makes you think of a particular person, make the purchase and put it aside for the holiday.

Have a shopping list. Taking a few moments to actually write out what you need and who you’re shopping for can save both stress and over-spending. It will also save you time, especially if you’ve written down information such as sizes and color preferences.

Shop during the week rather than on the weekend. Generally, fewer people shop during the week as compared to the weekend. Also, malls are places where people socialize as well as shop. With school in session during the week, you’ll find fewer families in the mall at that time.

Shop early in the day rather than later in the day or evening. Remember the saying, “The early bird catches the worm.” The same applies to shopping. In the mornings there are generally fewer people out. That means fewer crowds, faster service and time to browse a bit more when making gift selections.

Shop with somebody. This is a good idea unless the person you’re shopping with is the person you’re shopping for! Nevertheless, time goes by faster when you’re shopping with someone. Plus, you have somebody to talk to, to share gift ideas with and to help make color and size decisions.

Make multiple shopping trips rather than an all day shopping marathon. This will require a bit more planning, but can help preserve your strength, stamina and sanity in the long run. There are numerous methods to use in following this suggestion such as shopping for all the members of a particular family or purchasing children’s presents on one trip and adult’s presents on another trip.

Map out your shopping trip. When planning a trip, you wouldn’t dream of driving off without first having looked at an atlas, roadmap or consulting the internet. Why should shopping be any different? If you know what you want to purchase and where you can find it, half your battle is won. Check the mall web page to see where the store is located within the mall. If you’re in the mall, check the backlit directory. This will enable you to determine where you need to go and in what order to shop as you check off items from your shopping list.

Don’t forget the gift receipt and gift wrapping. In order to ensure that the recipient can return or exchange an item, make sure the sales associate includes a gift receipt with your purchase. Inquire if stores provide gift boxes or even gift wrap. If the store provides gift wrapping services, why not go ahead and get those presents complete to simply slide under the Christmas tree?

Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance or directions. In order to make room for holiday and seasonal merchandise, stores sometimes have to reconfigure departments or sections. This can be confusing to a customer who regularly shops that store. As a result, a great deal of time can be spent “searching” for merchandise and the searching can lead to frustration. Why not simply ask a sales associate for assistance?

One final suggestion regarding shopping – at anytime – but particularly during the holidays: keep safety in mind at all times. Know where you place your credit card or checkbook after a purchase. Don’t keep large amounts of cash in your wallet or purse. Take in just what you need to spend and come back later. When getting money from an automatic teller machine, don’t let people crowd you too closely. When taking purchases to your car, lock them out of sight in the trunk rather than exposed in the back seat. Finally, let somebody at home know you’re going to be shopping, your destination, route and estimated time of return.

Another bonus that malls offer are extended hours. Shop early and shop late by checking the mall’s website for a detailed listing of this season’s holiday hours. Here are the malls convenient to East Cobbers:

The Avenue at East Cobb
4475 Roswell Road, Suite 1520
Marietta 30062
More info: 770-971-9945

Cumberland Mall
1000 Cumberland Mall
Atlanta 30339
More info: 770-435-2206

Lenox Square Mall
3393 Peachtree Road NE
Atlanta 30325
More info: 404-233-6767

North Point Mall
1000 North Point Circle
Alpharetta 30022
More info: 770-740-9273

Perimeter Mall
4400 Ashford Dunwoody Road
Atlanta 30346
More info: 770-394-4270

Phipps Plaza
3500 Peachtree Road
Atlanta 30326
More info: 404-262-0992

Town Center Mall
400 Ernest W. Barrett Parkway
Kennesaw 30144
More info: 770-424-9486