I read a book in college where an elderly couple got lost in the mall and died of “lingering dread.” After holiday shopping yesterday, I can see how that could happen. Nothing like crowds, too bright lights, and bad recordings of “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” to make you wish you’d stayed home. Here’s how to get through it.

1.) It’s a bad sign when the customer service rep says, “Let me check you in” instead of “Let me help you.”

2.) Pedestrians are like rabbits. They dart out and don’t know where they’re going. You’re on the naughty list if you hit one.

3.) Baked goods are tricky. People have a lot already. On the other hand, my neighbor gave me homemade caramel sauce that should be a controlled substance so…this tip is no help at all.

4.) If you’re not close with the receiver, try an ornament. It says: “I don’t know you well, but I kind of like you and thought this was pretty.”

5.) Make your hard to buy for relatives write a Christmas list. Otherwise they end up with way too many coffee mugs.

Lastly, it will all be worth it on Christmas morning when you wake up and realize you don’t have to leave the house.