The decorations are up, festive tunes are belting from the stereo and the presents are around the tree. At least that’s the ideal scenario.
For some, the dreaded present shopping may be still to come. No need to panic though, we’ve gathered tips and advice from bloggers and social media fans to bring you the ultimate guide to Christmas gift shopping within a week. Grab a pen and paper – and maybe a glass of wine – and read on.
Make a Plan
First off, figure out how much time you have to play with. Your strategy may be very different depending on whether you have the whole week or just the weekend to dedicate to shopping.
When you’ve worked out how much time you have to dedicate to gift shopping, you can start thinking about your approach. Most people combine a mixture of online and offline shopping, fitting online shopping in around home tasks, while on public transport, or relaxing in front of the TV. Twitter user @mrsskellers agrees and suggests that shoppers “Do it all online & avoid the chaos!”
Online browsing can also be used in the research phase if you don’t yet know what you’re going to buy everyone. If you decide to buy online, make sure you only use shops which offer options to get your last minute gifts posted to you in time (the last posting date for first class delivery is this Friday). If you need to sign for items but you’re at the office, consider getting them delivered to your workplace.
Prioritise and Set Budgets
It’s vital that you prioritise the most important presents first. If you have kids to buy for, get their presents now. Next in line will be your close friends and family, making sure you leave the least important presents for last – because if you can’t get hold of them it may not be the end of the world!
Set a budget before you start so you don’t get carried away when you’re out shopping. Break that down further so you have a budget set per person and it’ll be easier to stick to your overall budget. You may actually be able to snap up a bargain or two this close to Christmas as there are some shops which roll out sales just before. Debenhams has a half price Christmas gifts sale on this week for canny customers who have been holding off on shopping till now.
All Over the Shop(s)
If you’re shopping early in the week, head to a town, city or shopping centre so that you’ve got the choice of lots of shops. It’s also worth finding out your local shopping centre’s late night shopping hours. Don’t spend too much time browsing in a shop if you’re not sure if you’ll be able to buy something there – stick to what you know and you’re more likely to be successful.
As Christmas draws closer, adapt your strategy so that you can try to get everything in one place. That way you’re not spending time travelling from one side of town or city to the other. Head out to retail parks or superstores which stock a whole host of items from toys, homeware, electronics and clothing, to beauty products and gifts. You won’t be able to buy a men’s onesie from a petrol station on Christmas Eve!
In terms of transport, you really want access to a car or taxi to avoid carrying loads of heavy bags on the bus or train. Uber is an innovative taxi firm in London which lets you book a taxi with a smartphone app, and they offer really swanky cars! Alternatively, park and ride services are a sensible option to save spending hours queuing to get a parking space. If you don’t have the car boot to store your shopping while you keep going, some shopping centres offer lockers to store your shopping, which you could use to save lugging your presents around with you all day. Alternatively you might want to order big items online and get them delivered (if time allows).
Stacey from Five’s A Fellowship says “For really big items I usually arrange for them to be delivered. With no transport of my own it would be crazy hard getting some of the bigger stuff home with a double pushchair and three children to juggle.”
Take a Break
Taking a break from shopping might be the last thing on your mind when you’re short on time and have a big list of presents to find and buy, but it’s important so that you stay energised and focused.
It may sound silly, as shopping isn’t exactly an Olympic sport, but you need to remember to keep yourself hydrated. Stuffy shops combined with crowds are a recipe for stress and headaches, so keep a bottle of water with you and small snacks that you can eat on the go. A cereal bar or piece of fruit will do the trick, but be careful not to drink in shops that sell clothes or fabrics where you’re not allowed to consume food. Grabbing a coffee on the go will keep you perky too, or if you’re feeling a little more festive perhaps a cheeky sip of mulled wine?
That’s a Wrap
Time is of the essence, so if you’re not a fan of wrapping presents and have available budget, it may be preferable to investigate a gift wrapping service. Some shopping centres have pop-up stands that offer wrapping so you can get your presents wrapped before you even get home. Use them!
If you prefer to wrap presents yourself, do it as you go along or else, come Christmas Eve, you might be drowning in gift paper and tags.
Don’t Forget the Sprouts
What about Christmas dinner? Leave it to the last minute and you risk being stuck with a fresh turkey that’s either way too big (leaving you with turkey sandwiches for the next two weeks), or way too small (a mouthful per person). If you’re not able to bag a fresh turkey, no problem; a frozen turkey will do the job just as well. If you do opt for a frozen bird, make sure you refer to the defrosting instructions in advance as it can take a few days for a large one to thaw. Britishturkey.co.uk will tell you all you need to know about defrosting, cooking times and length of time needed to cook.
Also make sure you stock up on any extras you may need to make the day go smoothly: tin foil and greaseproof paper, extra toilet paper for all the guests and spare batteries for the kids’ presents.
“Shopping with a toddler in tow is stressful enough, I don’t need the added pressure of trying to find a shopping mall I’ve never been to or finding parking.”
“Go first thing in the morning. Have a list in your head get in and out!”
“Having a toddler, I struggle with crowds, hence I try and avoid heading into town near Christmas,”
“I tend to make one big trip to a city each year as there is more choice and more shops to choose from. I make sure this is a child free trip too. I use the park and ride if possible to avoid steep parking costs.”