Christmas can be overwhelming. People to see, presents to buy, places to go, pheasants to pluck, etc. Staying on top of things is vital if you wish to enjoy this time of year (which is the point of a modern Christmas, right?). Well, with that in mind, here are some tips and tricks to keep you ahead of Santa this festive period.
First and foremost, you need to set budgets that will ensure you don’t spend all of January as bankrupt. This figure will differ grately between people, but not “living outside your means”, so to speak, is essential. So map out how many people you are buying presents for, what food you need, and any other bits and bobs, and assign money accordingly. You could go one step further and try to weigh your budget up against how much you expect to get, value wise, in the presents you receive!
Make a literal checklist
A spreadsheet can get out of hand quickly, and can be forgotten or deleted between now and Christmas. So why not switch, temporarily, back to good old fashioned pen and paper? Once budgets have been hashed out, write down all you need to do, split into a couple of lists (“Presents”, “Food”, etc.). And add little tick boxes next to them, to help you keep check & give you a little boost every time you tick something off.
Alongside the ink and paper approach, try employing a productivity app. Fortunately, even this sector of the world wide web isn’t exempt from the Christmas takeover. Santa’s Bag allows you to set budgets, add gifts, and see if you are under/over budget at any stage. It can be a nice hub to launch your Christmas assault from.
Buy online whenever possible
A few years ago this may not have been the norm, but now online shopping is no longer a complete lottery when it comes to most goods. Which such little difference between any mass produced product, it makes sense to order online and save yourself time and hassle. The only instances we can think of that it will be best to avoid online is when looking for something hand-made & unique, or for anything perishable, such as food. They may still require the personal touch to get just right.
Start early with Black Friday week
It may take a lot of planning to be ready this early, but if you can be, try to have all your big ticket presents (toys, video games, TVs, Blu Rays etc.) planned by Black Friday week. Originally an American “holiday”, Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving, marked by huge sales by retailers. The idea has now travelled across the Atlantic to these shores, and many online retailers now have “Black Friday week” sales. Taking advantage of these can save you a LOT of money, and leave you free to focus more on smaller gifts, food, and generally enjoying the season.
Missed Black Friday? Don’t worry - plenty of other retailers will be having “flash sales” (short sales that tend to come out of nowhere) between now and Christmas Eve. secretsales.com is one of many websites that tracks and keeps you up to date with these quick sales. Collate as many as you can, and check on them regularly. HotUKDeals is a great app that provides a similar service, but it is fueled entirely by other users stumbling across sales and reporting on them.
Price Compare EVERYTHING!
Ok, so you missed Black Friday, and the sales haven’t gone your way. Don’t fret! There is hope yet! Price comparison sites aren’t just for insurance and . . . meerkats, but for retail to. pricerunner.co.uk trawls a lot of sites to bring you the best price for whatever you are looking for. Not getting everything in the same place may seem like a hassle, but when done in conjunction with the careful planning stressed earlier in this article, it shouldn’t cause any problems.
Prepare for shopping
Now the big presents are dealt with, it’s time for the nitty girtty. But before hitting the streets, consider the following:
- Eat well - Nothing stoggy for breakfast. Eat healthy, and take a few snacks with you for energy on the go
- Dress for practicality and confidence - We’re not saying go full comfy shoes and tracksuit bottoms, because studies show that those who don’t feel confident with how they dress buy more. So dress in something you like, but make sure it’s something you can move about in all day
- Go alone initially - Other people can influence your present making decisions. You could find the perfect gift for someone, but one awkward look from your partner and you’ll get second thoughts. Go out and pick everything, then draft in someone else if you need help carrying everything. If you are buying gifts as a couple, still scout ahead alone, then go back as a pair to look over the things you have chosen.
Do food shopping in stages
If you are only having a night in over Christmas, this may not be of much help to you. But those planning big meals or parties should compartmentalise their food shopping. Somethings have expiration dates that last well into January, so buy them earlier on in December during your normal shop. While you’re there, jot down what you want, and it’s typical shelf life. Then break down your list into a week-by-week list. You should be able to get the bulk well before the last week before Christmas.
Now for something fairly radical. Those REALLY in tune with their gift buying could stand to save a lot of money if they buy their gifts a year in advanced during the January sales. The sales can also be a great way to get additional gifts that aren’t “necessary” for Christmas. For example, if you buy a new laptop, why not hold off on the accessories (webcam, mouse, stand etc.) until they drop in price in January?