I did my Christmas shopping, with less than a week to spare. Luckily, I didn't have to deal with crowds like this. Trying to get out of Walmart was dern close though.
This was probably the most sophisticated approach I've ever taken. First of all, I went with Amy which ensured a logical search path from Target to Justice, etc. Mathematically speaking, it was a depth-first algorithm - making it the "shortest". We only backtracked a few times. It's maddening, but I never seem to find EXACTLY what I want, although I come close in most instances.
My budget was approximately $50 and Amy seemingly spent three times as much (just kidding Pretty). She got me something, but I have no idea what. Of course I was reassured by her assertion that, "It's really nothing special". In which case, I say - anything that writes or can be written on is exciting to me. I've got a very strange attachment to writing utensils.
I can't tell what everybody got, but I will tell you that I did not get Amy 6 forks. It didn't take long for me to see the absurdity of having a set of unmatched silverware. Besides, how exciting could that really be? The lady in the checkout lane tried to hint to me after scanning all the toys...
"Sir, are these your forks?"
I didn't say I was perfect, only getting better. Christmas shopping without kids and with the wife was the best experience of the season. I can't wait to see the happy (or horrified/just kidding) looks.