It’s not much of a secret that shopping malls (or centers, in NorthPark‘s case) have extended hours from Thanksgiving until Christmas. But no one seems to pay attention. My favorite time to shop during the holidays is between 9 and 10 p.m. — it’s almost relaxing.

I tested this theory out again last night, with less than a week to go before Christmas. I arrived at 8 p.m. and it was still a bit crowded, but by 9 p.m. the crowds had thinned out. I didn’t have to wait in any lines, and got lots of personal attention from store employees.

One more secret: Most large chains no longer wait until the day after Christmas to mark stuff 50 percent off. Get it now while the getting’s good.