Math Holiday Shopping Day

There’s a lot of math involved in shopping. And around the holidays, since there’s a lot more shopping, there’s a lot more math.

Today is special.

Today is Sibling Christmas Shopping Day. An unofficial holiday created by my mother’s children a few years ago. My three siblings and I head out to the mall. Just us. No children, no spouses.

We act like a bunch of wild 10 year olds stuck in grown-up bodies. And we’re not small grown-ups.

If you’re in Memorial City Mall today, look out.

There’s math in Sibling Christmas Shopping Day.

There are three sisters and one brother. All of us wear clothing and accessories according to traditional gender roles. So how many Christmas earring ornaments do we need?

And who will bring them?!

There are four of us, and we’re shopping for each other. In how many different ways can we group together in pairs of two to optimize shopping for each other?

And how on earth will we make sure to stay hidden!?

My Christmas shopping budget for the day is $200. I have seven people to buy for and want to spend roughly the same on each one. I also want to buy coffee at Starbucks, lunch, and take some picture booth pictures. What’s a good estimate for me to spend on each of my seven people?

And why can’t I have a bigger budget? *sigh*

The probability for us getting thrown out of a store for horsing around is .04. There are about 200 stores in Memorial City Mall. If we visit 150 stores, how many times will we be kicked out for horsing around?

And how can I make sure to blame it on them?

We’re meeting at 9:30 and wanting to get done around 3:30. If we each have seven people on our lists, how many presents should we buy each hour to make sure we get everything done?

And who’s going to be late to mess up all the math we’ve done figuring this out?

If the line to see Santa is 45 minutes long and we all want to crowd on that poor man’s lap together, when should we arrive to do this so that we don’t take away any shopping time?

And who’ll be the lonely sib stuck in line holding our place until the others finally show up?

Math Fun, Mall Fun

When you take your children shopping this season, start your day with a budgeting conversation. Even if the sky’s the limit you can visit about how much each child wants to spend. Revisit the topic at the end of the day and discuss their impressions of the value of things – were items more or less expensive than they’d anticipated? Did they go over budget?

During the shopping trip, point out places where there are discounts. Discuss “just-for-you” deals that the kiosk clerks offer. Consider real value and how it compares with perceived value.

Look around for ways to count, talk about time or money and look for patterns. When you do, point it out and say, “and that’s math!”

And share what you see!

Leave a comment below if you find anything interesting. And if you see a bunch of grownups acting worse than any kid you’ve seen… well, it’s not me. Really.

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