Does the thought of Christmas shopping leave you quaking in your winter boots or are you relishing the prospect of joining the hordes in your local town centre?
We’ve caught up with a few top shoppers and have compiled some tips and tricks to take the stress out of Christmas shopping; whether you’re planned and ready with one month to go, or rushing out the door for some last minute crackers
We all know the final month before Christmas will fly by, so you’ve got to get a solid strategy in place to make the preparations easy and efficient.
We’re all guilty of a little pre-task procrastination, but once you’ve listed out your immediate family, friends and other must-buys, it’s time to bite the bullet and get shopping. Whether you plan to actually buy online or not, the internet is a great resource for present hunting and research – you’ll get ideas for presents and will be able to compare prices, brands and models across a number of different outlets in minutes.
Why not start a Pinterest board for each of your giftees? Pin and collate inspiration for gifts and then start your hunt armed with fully-formed ideas. Make sure it’s private though, otherwise they’ll be able to get a sneak preview of what to expect under the tree.
Pay particular attention to product reviews and customer testimonials and check out voucher deals sites like www.vouchercodes.co.uk to see if you can find any discounts on the goods you want to buy.
Get Your Priorities In Order
First things first – if you have children you’re probably safest sorting their presents right away. It’s generally kids’ toys and games that sell out early and you don’t want to face disappointed, teary eyes (or worse, gargantuan tantrums) on Christmas Day. Next up, focus on any presents you may need to send in the mail – the last posting dates for international mail are in the first week or two of December, and you want to avoid an angry call from Aunt Barbara in Australia.
When considering which presents to buy online and which to buy from the shops, get the online shopping done first. That way, if you need to return anything by post you have plenty of time to do so without causing any last minute panics.
Stocking fillers can probably be left for later on. There’s certainly something to be said about sourcing and packing Christmas stockings, whether it’s for children or loved ones. While no-one really knows how or where this long-running tradition began, the contents of a stocking are steeped in tradition. Why not use the list below as a basis for your own?
• An orange or tangerine
• A lucky charm
• Some sweets
• A pair of socks
• An e-book voucher
• Some toiletries or make up
Where To Go
When you have limited time for shopping, you don’t have the luxury of extensive browsing time. But with a month still to go you’ve got time to look beyond the usual shopping centres and supermarkets.
Try nearby Christmas markets to see if you can bag some handmade and traditional gifts, and keep an eye out for pop-up shops which may offer unique presents. Bath and Edinburgh are renowned for their fantastic Christmas markets, and Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland is a great day out and a brilliant place to pick up gifts you won’t find on the high street.
You’ll also find more unusual items in independent shops, boutiques and designer shops. Getting imaginative with your Christmas shopping can pay off big time come 25 December. You may even choose to book a last-minute weekend away in another city to do your Christmas shopping in style – Dublin, Berlin or Amsterdam anyone?
A Break From Shopping
Don’t forget that Christmas is meant to be fun – so take the opportunity to make the most of the festive season while you shop.
If you’re heading to London, plan in an extra hour and take a walk down Regent Street to see the toy display in the windows of Hamleys. If you’re braving the brisk sea air, there’s ice skating outside the Brighton Pavilion, and finally in Edinburgh you can take the kids to the National Museum of Scotland for a Sunday ‘Crafternoon’. Finally, watch out for a glimpse of the Coca-Cola Christmas trucks in your local city and don’t forget to take the kids to a Santa’s Grotto; with a month to go, you shouldn’t be put off by the big queues.
If you’re getting items delivered, ensure you’ll be at home to sign for them if required. If it’s tricky to be around to sign for items, perhaps get them delivered to work or use an in store delivery service like Click & Collect offered by Debenhams, where you can pick things up from your local store.
Once you get the presents home, safeguard them in more than one hiding place. If they are discovered by prying eyes then at least they’ll only see some of the presents and not all of them – or even better wrap them straight away, so they won’t know which are theirs!
Now’s the time to get any extra furniture you need to accommodate all the family that’ll descend on you on Christmas Day (and probably Boxing Day too). It’s nearly always chairs and crockery that are the problem, so grab a few spare stowaway dining chairs and plates and never again will you need to plonk Grandma on a deckchair with a paper plate.
Once you’ve conquered the present shopping, you might find you have some leftover time to get the perfect Christmas party outfit. Whether it’s a stunning dress from Jenny Packham, as worn in the above illustration, or pretty shoe boots from Faith, you’ll find the ideal seasonal wardrobe at Debenhams.
Sonya from www.rocknrollmum.com takes advantage of Click & Collect services offered by shops like Debenhams. She said: “I often use Click & Collect as I live in a small town where our local branches have a fraction of the items available online.”
Helen Cook, a fan of the Debenhams Facebook page, is organised and starts her shopping early. “Everyone’s is now bought and wrapped. Debenhams has something for everyone at all ages sorted in one or two hits and all done from the comfort of my lounge!”
Twitter user @mamamima_1 says “Don’t leave anything to the last minute! As for pressies, shop online at a store that doesn’t charge delivery.”
Tanya from Mummy Barrow has a nifty solution for hiding presents: “I get a gift bag for everybody that I have to buy a present for and each person has their own wrapping paper for stuff that won’t fit in their gift bag. Only I know whose paper is whose.” Sneaky!