Before making plans, decide if the potential savings are worth the effort. Many stores also offer good deals later on.

Leave the kids home with family or book a sitter.

Assemble coupons and deal information in a folder.

Charge up your cell phone so it’s handy for making online comparisons.

Keep your cool. If reaching for a last item might result in a fight, wish your fellow shopper happy holidays and move on.

Friends and relatives can add to your fun or slow you down. You decide!

Reduce purse contents to bare essentials and pack water and snacks for door-busting energy.

Investigate websites like or that track savings.

Dress in layers (perhaps also in bright colors so you can be found by friends).

Assess if you really need to camp out overnight for a bargain. Sales last all day, although supplies don’t.

Your most expensive item or the one in short supply should be your first priority. Good luck snagging it!

Mary Alice Cookson is associate editor of Boston Parents Paper.