It’s hard to believe that Christmas is not far off and there are just over two months left before the day is upon us. Soon after we unravel the glittery tinsel from the boughs of our fake Christmas trees and we have neatly packed away the strings of holly and the adorable Father Christmas ornaments – we tell ourselves that this year is going to be different! We tell ourselves that this year we are going to be super organized and we’re going to avoid the Christmas rush!
Unless you spring into action now – you are going to be faced with the same dilemma and on the eve of Christmas you will be fighting the maddening mall crowds and battling with the other shoppers who have left their Christmas shopping for the eleventh hour! However, there is still time – take a deep breath and let’s make a committed effort to beat the Christmas rush. Here are a few tips that will help you to be organized and beat the rush!
1. Make a list. List each and every person that you are planning to buy a gift for. Next to the gift recipient’s name, list a few possible gift ideas. If your Christmas list is rather lengthy, it may be worthwhile to consider giving homemade gifts instead of commercially bought gifts. A lot of parents like to give their kid’s teachers a gift – why not think about a tasteful homemade gift (this may be homemade fudge, biscuits, etc. which are contained in a pretty container). Good quality homemade gifts are wonderful gift choices and are often more appreciated!
2. Budget. In the heat of the moment – especially when you are walking up and down the aisle of a packed store on Christmas Eve, you totally forget about your budget and many stressed shoppers tend to buy anything (as long as it is a gift). If you plan beforehand and you have an idea of what you are looking for, it’s much easier to stick to a budget and find the perfect present.
3. Online shopping was designed for busy, working mothers who do not have the time or the effort to trundle from store to store to find the best discounts. You can purchase directly from the online websites but if you still enjoy the idea of shopping (in a real store), use the websites to get a better idea of what’s out there and what the prices are. Often however, you will only be able to find certain products online and you will need to use the online site to qualify for the lowered price!
4. Buying gifts. Many people wait for their thirteenth cheque to buy Christmas gifts. Few people are in a financial position to get all their Christmas shopping done by October but, if you buy a few smaller gifts or stocking fillers before your long-awaiting bonus arrives, you’ll be surprised at how much you can save. Remember stores work on supply and demand – so the more people that buy a product, the more a retailer is able to push up their mark-up. If you buy smaller gifts now, you will probably be able to get the items for less.
5. Buy thoughtful and practical gifts. A kid’s Christmas wish list usually includes the very latest gadgets and toys. If you are able to find a gift that suits your budget, by all means – make his or her wish come true. However, don’t only concentrate on fun gifts. Use your Christmas gift money to buy practical gifts – buy children an outfit or spend some money on school stationery, etc. Children usually get tons of toys and within a few days the novelty of the latest toy is forgotten and as such buying necessary and practical gifts is a wise alternative.
6. Wrap gifts straight away. As soon as you have a few minutes to spare, wrap the presents and put them away (remember to find a safe hiding space). Rather than spending your Christmas Eve wrapping hundreds of gifts, wrap a few at a time. Make your own personalized gift tags!
7. Watch for seasonal specials. A few days before Christmas day, a number of big retailers start selling Christmas decorations and crackers for as much as 50% off. Visit big hypermarkets and mega-stores to find these great deals and stock up on tinsel and tree decorations for half the price. Look out for great table decorations at giveaway prices. Retailers generally start putting up Christmas decorations in October. Make sure you keep your eye peeled for discounts or sales now!
8. Christmas lunch! A Christmas table loaded with all the usual festive trimmings and treats like turkey, ham, gammon, etc. can cost a small fortune – especially if you buy everything you need in one go. Again, use the Internet or keep an eye on advertisements from retailers to find out if they are running any specials on turkeys, hams, etc. Buy non-perishable food items now and pack them away. If you are baking the family’s fruitcake, stock up now on all the ingredients you need. When you go shopping for groceries, add a few extra items into your trolley such as serviettes, canned goods, peanuts, sweets, cool drinks, etc. You will be spared the expense later!
Another way to save on the expense of a traditional Christmas lunch is to join up with another family. In this way you won’t be bearing the full cost of the lunch and can look forward to spending the special day with friends or family.
Plan the lunch carefully and work according to a menu. In this way you will know exactly what you need to buy beforehand and will not have to try to hunt for raspberry jelly for your delicious trifle! Buy as much as you can now and be freed from the worry of trying to find a popular and usually hard to find ingredients over the festive season.
This year, look forward to a relaxed and unrushed Christmas and instead of spending your holidays in jam-packed malls, you can sit back and know that your Christmas arrangements are well underway and everything has been taken care of.