Holiday Shopping Done Right (And How to Involve the Kids!)

When it comes to shopping for Christmas gifts, I’m such a planner.

(Okay, I’m a planner basically 99.9% of the time, but when it comes to gifts I’m even more extra…)

I usually start making lists in early fall and start actual shopping around mid October. I try to have everything together by the end of November so that once the holiday frenzy begins, I’m good to go and don’t have to venture out into the crowds.

Personally, I prefer to shop in person for holiday gifts. Don’t you? It’s truly an experience. That way, I can leave with gifts that I have an actual connection with, and purchase pieces I truly fall in love with. It’s magical to find an unexpected gem for someone you love!


This year I decided to involve the boys in the Christmas shopping experience. We went to The Westchester, in White Plains, and it ended up being the most perfect family day!

I went to college 5 minutes away from the mall. It’s always been one of my favorite spots in Westchester because it’s absolutely gorgeous there and so therapeutic to walk around.

The Westchester also has stores + eateries for every budget! In college, I would often head there to grab a coffee at Starbucks and wander around. My favorite time to visit is during the holiday season – so magical!


I love The Westchester even more now that I’m a mom because 1. they have a valet option which makes my life way easier if ever I do need to make trips to my car with the kids 2. they have an amazing play space with tons of activities for little ones (perfect for when they get restless!) and 3. SAVOR Food Hall has SO many yummy, healthy options, from pizza to fresh juices and healthy bowl options. I’m a big fan of Tomato & Co’s margherita pie! The kids are huge fans, too.


The boys and I shopped at Nordstrom, Weekend Max Mara, Eileen Fisher, Hanna Andersson and Build-a-Bear, and we made a pit stop for some pizza at Tomato & Co. I found some gorgeous, unique pieces for my mom, aunt, grandmother, and sister, and even managed to sneak a few things for the boys while they weren’t looking!


I have two young ogres boys, so my first tip is snacks. Lots of them. Bring a big bag that can hold them all!

I know that if I try to “control” my kids too much, it’s never a good time. They crave freedom and personal space and it’s essential for me to give them some when we do activities as a family. If possible, give your kids a task to accomplish or little jobs throughout the day. Kids thrive when they are given a mission! Whenever you can, make it fun – kids love a good game. And if you sense they’re getting restless, take a mini break and go grab a bite to eat.


I’m sharing every detail about our visit, as well as my top tips for shopping with kids, in my Simon SAID feature:

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Johanna Riehm teaches in the department of Communication and Media at Manhattanville College and in the department of English at Mercy College. She teaches courses in the history of communication, public speaking, and social media, as well as creative and technical writing workshops. Johanna’s work has been featured in Graffiti Literary Magazine, The Write Place at the Write Time, The Bangalore Review, Cactus Heart Press, and the LaMothe Review. She is working on her first longer work, a creative nonfiction novel called We Carved Our Names in Tamarind Trees.

2 thoughts on “Holiday Shopping Done Right (And How to Involve the Kids!)

  1. Awesome post and tips with shopping with kids. I am don’t have children yet but will take mental notes for when I do. I also really like the Westchester Mall, especially the way the revamp the 4th floor where the food court is. Johanna, you are an example to follow, I wish I could start shopping early but I was wait until the last minute. I can alway try next year lol.
    Happy Holidays!


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