11/10/2015 02:46 EST | Updated 12/19/2016 03:11 EST

How To Navigate Shopping Outlets During The Holidays

I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, but at some point during the holiday season, you will find yourself at a mall. Maybe even an outlet. Probably an outlet.

And there’s nothing wrong with outlets. I love a good outlet, particularly when I have work I’m trying to avoid or feel like roaming around with my earphones in, pretending I’m in action film. I prefer to go outlets on my own, away from the prying eyes of friends who remind me I’m supposed to be shopping for somebody other than myself, or who slow me down when I need to circumvent a colony of slow-walkers, far too interested in anything but walking at a timely pace. (See: me as a teenager, approximately 15 years ago.)

So what I’m saying is that I know a thing or two about outlets. And because that’s where the cheaper presents are, I’m going to bestow upon you my wisdom of knowledge. Why? Because we’ve all felt the same feeling of despair upon pulling into an at-capacity parking lot and realizing, “But the Christmas exchange is tomorrow.”

Here 4 U, young grasshoppers.

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Gifts For Her

1. Go alone

This isn’t a group mission. Your procrastination did this to you, and you must therefore be completely alone with it. Friends will try to help and will only hinder. They will walk slower than you need to, and ask to "just pop in here for a second" when you have no less than 64 people to shop for and none of them are interested in whatever they’re serving in the food court. These friends will think they know what your mom, dad, or aunt’s new boyfriend’s daughter needs, and they will make suggestions based on nothing, holding up items like blankets, baskets, and containers of hand cream. Nobody wants these things. Especially not them. But distract them with these things anyway, and make a run for it when you can.

2. Go alone: part II

The other reason: you cannot be held responsible for others when navigating an outlet mall. Friends will get left behind, and your success is dependent on your ability to leave them behind. Unless you’re a cold, hard monster, this feat will be impossible. And if you are a cold, hard monster, then you have no one to shop for anyway, so stop reading this.

3. Lineup for no one, wait for nothing

Nothing will make you lose faith in humanity more than lineups -- especially when you realize every lineup is for bags. That’s it: bags. It’s always bags. Human beings wake up and get in their cars and drive to places so they can stand around for bags -- bags that everybody, according to the lineup, will have. This means you must take advantage: go into stores that are exclusively deprived of lines. Not only does this ensure a unique present, but it will preserve your beautiful, valuable time -- which is far more important than any bag (or the happiness of any family member whose livelihood depends on said bag).

4. Be aggressive

But not too aggressive. Do not physically touch anyone, or you will be arrested for assault and rightfully so and your Christmas will be a disaster. You will disgrace everyone you have ever loved, and while that means you no longer have to shop for anyone, it will be very lonely on December 25 when you are alone and eating Chef Boyardee out of a can.

But your passive-aggression can be real. A loud, "Sorry" when you are absolutely not sorry at all is the fastest way to remind somebody that getting into your personal space bubble is the fastest way to ensure their emotional collapse. "Excuse me" while being knocked into immediately sends the offender into a spiral of guilt, tainting their day, and perhaps their holiday as a whole. Think: "What would Mary Crawley do?" And then, after being aware, do whatever the Dowager Countess would do instead.

5. Eat/drink/do not be merry

Are you having a good time? How dare you. This is real life, this is anarchy, this is your own doing. Every time you’re tempted to pat yourself on the back, remind yourself that this your fault. And so, that anxiety will fuel you to bypass families enjoying storefronts and to choose between sweater colours with ease. Stop only when necessary a.k.a. to combat hunger.

You think this is a game? While "eating later" seems easy, it will only lead to hanger which will lead you to crying in the middle of Kate Spade because you don’t know what bag is supposed to be on sale. It is humiliation. Hanger is weakness. No, you will eat. You will drink. But so help us Santa, you will not be merry.

6. Mean business

This is not your time to shine. I understand that it’s tempting to walk into Coach like you’re made of cash-money and/or doll-hairs, but you’re probably not because I don’t know anybody who is. No: you’re on a mission. You’re buying gifts for the people you’d like to impress and/or win approval from. This means you must suppress your selfishness as deep as you can, promising it that it will be free as of December 26 when madness and mayhem run deep. Then, and only then, can you give into the temptation for a new T-shirt or whatever it is you’re holding right now instead of buying socks for your dad. Put down the T-shirt. Now. I’m serious. Those socks he likes are on sale, and he deserves all three pairs for $30, and not whatever you found in a bin for six dollars.

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