Halloween and Bonfire Night are behind us. There’s nothing now except the long stretch leading up to Christmas. Rather than have a season of panic, why not make this Christmas the one where you’ve got it all wrapped up early? Read on to discover our top tips on how to do your Christmas shopping early, and still feel festive come December.
Why Do Your Christmas Shopping Early?
There are so many pros to starting your Christmas early, you just need to stop and recognise them for a second. For us financially-savvy bunch at Shepherds Friendly, the biggest advantage is that you will save money. No last-minute panic buying that blasts the budget in to outer space. In fact, you’ll actually have time to make a budget.
Plus of course, you can actually spread the cost. December frequently comes with a nice little sweetener of an early pay packet for many Brits. However, that doesn’t mean we should be lulled into its security. Spread the cost over November and December and you won’t be wailing along to the January debt blues. 9 out of 10 of us head in to the New Year with a hefty credit card bill, thanks to Christmas. You want to be the 1 in 10.
Then there’s the sentimental side of things. How many times have you bought Aunt Susan toiletries, again, because… well, you were rushed, and just couldn’t think? By getting your shopping done early you have time to think, meaning you’ll become an incredible gift giver and not the joke present giver every year.
So how do you do it?
He’s Making a List, He’s Checking it Twice
Yes, we’re putting that earworm in your head, but Santa Claus is Coming to Town is the perfect tune to learn a lesson from when it comes to early Christmas shopping. The most important element to getting this right is a great list.
This should be relatively easy as it’ll mostly stay the same from year to year. It’s worth keeping track of what you bought last year, and possibly how much you spent. You can then refresh the list with any updates, and spend a little time jotting down a few ideas or hints. Is the 12 year old nephew now more in to Pokémon than Lego; did someone move house this year; or start university? This is your chance to get thinking.
Don’t forget to add everything to your list. So not just gifts but everything from crackers to the tree.
Draw Up the Budget
Set yourself a budget. This is important. There’s less chance of overspending if you’ve given it some careful thought in advance. Using the list you made above, go through and apportion your budget appropriately. Now’s the time to realise that this year you should be dusting off the artificial tree in preference of the £80 Nordic Spruce you’ve got your eye on.
The idea is to marry your list with your budget as closely as possible. You shouldn’t be stepping in to a store, or opening up your favourite online retailer until you’ve done so.
The beauty of doing your Christmas shopping early is that you get plenty of time for hunting down the best items at the best prices. Don’t be fooled in thinking the best deals will be available on 24th December. You’re wrong. The best deals are likely out there now. Even if there are Black Friday deals that prove better, keep receipts and packaging and you’ll be able to make the most of them if needs be.
Online is a great place to start, armed with your list and your budget, you can dash from retailer to retailer and compare prices.
Use Loyalty Points and Vouchers
Another good thing about doing your Christmas shopping early is that it gives you plenty of time to think about how you might spend the loyalty points you’ve accrued with various retailers throughout the year. You can also spend a little time hunting down vouchers and coupons for the retailers you’ll be using.
Choose the Cheapest Delivery Options
By ordering gifts and Christmas items online in advance, you have the luxury of choosing the cheapest delivery option. You shouldn’t need to select express delivery, and save yourself a bob or two.
Furthermore, take time filling your online baskets. Most retailers allow you to save a basket, and this is invaluable because frequently you can take advantage of free delivery when buying over a certain amount. Therefore, you can be sure to only check out once you’ve checked your list that nothing else needs purchasing from the same store.
A Few Words of Warning
There are a couple of pitfalls you do need to look out for if you’re starting your festive purchases early. Specifically take care when buying anything edible; that might spoil; or can be outgrown. Young children particularly have tastes that shift more rapidly than you can say Santa’s Grotto, and that bargain hamper isn’t such a bargain if you have to replace half of the items because they’ve gone out of date.
Furthermore, always make sure you’ve got some ‘backup’ or surprise gifts that are easily transferrable and can be used for other events if they aren’t needed. You might suddenly remember you should have bought something for your daughter’s Brownie pack leader, or the postman who you’ve just weighed down with five tonnes of online deliveries, or a long lost friend just happens to be passing through on December 21st.
Finally, if you’re going with the early Christmas shopping approach, make sure you have somewhere to store it all – out of direct sunlight, somewhere away from dust. Whether that means clearing out all the summer shoes from the bottom of your wardrobe, or dedicating a cupboard – do it before you starting buying.
Merry Christmas, from us in November
And so, you’re all set to have a very Merry Christmas, without any panic buying, and with minimal stress. December can be all about the gift-giving, mistletoe-kissing, mulled wine drinking, awe and wonder you want it to be, rather than an exercise in financial woes and bad choices.