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Christmas seems so far away, but I am probably kidding myself. With four big birthdays, two important weddings and a child starting school, the next few months are turning out to be rather expensive for me, and before I know it December will be here.
One of the main issues I have with Christmas shopping is that I run out of time, money or both. Here are some simple ways you can avoid fighting crowds, blowing your budget or frantically searching for an unexpected gift.
- Cookie Exchange: There is always so much baking to do at Christmas, and a lot of it gets given away to neighbours, teachers and friends as a gift. How about making one batch of your favourite cookie recipe, then hosting a cookie exchange with friends and family to ensure you get a great variety of cookies to offer guests over the holiday season.
- Shop Online: One of my favourite things to do is shop online. This suits me as I can do it at night when the boys are in bed, and I can shop around without doing any actual legwork. This way you can shop around for bargains, leave things in a basket and come back to them when you are ready, and double check with others before you make a big purchase.
- Bulk gift: Last year, all the females on my Christmas list got the same gift, but I personalised each one. This saved me time as I knew exactly what I needed and I did not have to spend a lot of time thinking about what I could buy for each person.
- Plan: One of the most important ways to save time is to plan. There is no point in going to the mall and wandering around hoping the perfect gift will jump out at you. I write a list of ideas ahead of time, and make note of alternatives if I cannot find my first choice for each gift.
- Sign up for emails: I know this can be annoying, but when you are looking to go gift shoping, these emails can be a goldmine. You will know the specials, discounts and popular items ahead of time and plan your shopping accordingly. Waiting until the department store has a sale on, or seeing a discount voucher come through on your email, can have a great impact on your budget and planning.
- Buy subscriptions: You can buy great subscriptions as gifts for things such as magazines, scrapbook kits, even razors! This means a whole year of gift giving without you having to go to a shop. The company will usually send a gift welcome pack direct to the recipient if you choose gift option, which also means you do not have to go to the post office if you are purchasing for someone you will not see during Christmas.
- Use plain gift wrap options: Instead of buying fancy patterned paper or shiny foil gift bags, use plain brown paper and jazz it up with a pretty ribbon, homemade tag, or even have the kids stamp or paint it for personalised wrapping paper.
- Cut back on Gifts: If you have a large family, consider doing a Secret Santa or set a spending limit per person. This may apply just to adults, or if your family is large you may want to set a limit for the children as well. For your own children, make sure that you are not buying gifts just to bulk up their stocking or so that they have the same amount as other family members.
- Ask what people want: It is always helpful to have a list for each person of what they want (or need) for the coming year. If you ask children what they want you will more than likely end up with a massive list, so it is a good idea to ask them throughout the year and make a note of anything that comes up repeatedly, or something that they are really enthusiastic about. That way you can whittle their wishlist down to a few items come Christmas.
- Gift Pool: If someone in your family wants a more elaborate or expensive gift, consider getting other family members in on the gift and contributing a set amount each.
- Use coupons and loyalty points: Rewards systems are great for your day-to-day shopping, but some also allow you to buy a range of products using credit or store points. You can use these to purchase gifts, or put towards a gift if you have a percentage off or a discount code. Supermarkets, department stores. some online retailers and coffee clubs tend to have great loyalty systems in place that you can use to your advantage.
- Buy throughout the year: Of course, you can take advantage of normal sales and specials thorough the year as well. Consider buying supermarket vouchers and gift cards to stockpile (remember to check expiry dates!) and purchase gifts that may be on special. Our local toy store always has amazing deals during the July school holidays, which means that it is a great time to stock up on toys that you know will still be appreciated come Christmas.
I would love to know your tips on saving time and money for this upcoming holiday season, please feel free to share them in the comments below!