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  • Writer's pictureCory Morrison

Autism: Christmas Shopping Tips

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

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It's that season! Many people flock to the stores or even order online to get pricey gifts for their loved ones during this festive time of year.

How do I Christmas shop independently for the first time? I provide some tips to help make the experience less overwhelming for you.

Ask Family Members or Friends if They Can Hint at What They Want

It can be frustrating not knowing what a person would like for Christmas. I particularly dislike struggling to find an item in an aisle and the person next to me is like, "Move it!" in their head.

Since people with autism can have personal space issues, this may or may not be important for you to consider.

Christmas Shopping Tips
(Photo credit: RTimages on Can Stock Photo Inc.)

How do I prevent that struggle from happening? What I do with my parents is ask what they would like, then not always get exactly what they want but get something similar so that you'll know they'll appreciate the gifts.

Mystery without making it too awkward can be fun.

Stay Organized

Staying organized would include making sure that your credit or debit card works not long prior to Christmas shopping, ensuring you have enough money, or knowing how much money you want to put on a gift card.

According to, people on the spectrum often have trouble with organization. Therefore, making sure you have everything is crucial.

In the past, I've made the mistake of using my credit card when it wasn't working and then having to use cash to pay. I've also been unprepared to know exactly how much money I want to put on a gift card that has a range (Example: $50 to $200).

Indeed, cashiers have gotten annoyed at me for not being oomph in these areas. That is poor customer service on their part, but it's still nice for you to prevent such scenarios from happening.

Carefully Consider Stores

Although not entirely related to autism, if your loved ones like particular brands, want something a little fancier, or perhaps want a board game, it will be a good idea to know where you can find these desired objects.

The best part about malls is that you are usually guaranteed to find at least one store with such items.

Also, if you want to avoid rude encounters with staff, reading reviews on Google Maps or Yelp will be helpful.

Autism: Stores in a mall
(Photo credit: Artisticco on Can Stock Photo Inc.)

In your free time, you can research local stores and see which ones will meet all of your expectations, so you won't leave disappointed. This method has worked for me every time.

Be Prepared for Crowds

According to Integrityinc, many autistic people get overwhelmed with crowds.

Maybe you have sensory issues related to noise or have a hard time hearing what your partner or family member is saying to you when the background is loud.

Autism: Crowded mall
(Photo credit: Rclassen on Can Stock Photo Inc.)

I get annoyed when people are in my personal space or angrily say, "Excuse me!" to me.

When stuff like this happens, I often find myself freezing like a statue for 10 to 20 seconds before I move again because I feel anxious and uncomfortable.

If you feel crowds are a problem for you, try to Christmas shop at times where stores may not be as busy, such as on weekdays during school hours if you have any time off then, or perhaps a couple to a few weeks before Christmas instead of a week before Christmas.


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