A last-minute Christmas shoppers guide to crossing the finish line without breaking the bank
And… relax, just a week to go now until Christmas. It’s time to sit back, wind down, and enjoy the bad food, Christmas parties and festive songs in the run-up to the big day.
Well, that is unless you’re one of the not so insignificant minority of us who are yet to finish, or even start, our Christmas shopping. In which case, this is no time for relaxing at all.
If you are a perennial last-minute Christmas shoppers who is a planning a last-minute trip uptown this week, there are a few things to bear in mind as you frantically scour the high street for presents, food, drinks and festive knick knacks. Because whilst the run-up to Christmas is the gift that keeps on giving to Britain’s high street, to the tune of an anticipated £4.7billion or more, it is going to do neither your wallet nor your stress levels any favours if you’re not careful with your spending.
Granted, the fact that you’re doing your shopping last minute means that talk of a sensible, organised approach to doing your Christmas shop might be a bit far-fetched. However a planned, carefully thought out shopping campaign, which will take the stress and financial sting away from the post-festive period is more than possible, a January where you’re not achingly poor or, worse still, buried up to your neck in debt, is a gift in itself.
Here are a few useful tips on how to make your last-minute Christmas shopping spree a success.
Set a maximum spending limit
Quite simply, this is a golden rule which anybody doing their Christmas shopping, ever, should heed. An alarmingly common approach to buying presents and preparing for Christmas is to shop first and count the cost later, which almost always leads to a hellishly cash-poor start to the New Year. It is ever so important to set yourself a limit on what you’re going to spend on gift buying and festive treats, in line with what your budget states you can afford, and stick to it.
It really is all too easy to get swept up in the ‘joy of giving’ side of the festive period. But as much as it might feel good over Christmas, the festive feel-good joy will disappear pretty quick when you realise you have no money on 1st January. So again, set a maximum spending limit. Do it for your future self.
Do Secret Santa with your family
An office classic that’s as famous for the inappropriate and frankly weird gift exchanges as it is celebrated for spreading Christmas joy amongst the corporate monotony, Secret Santa is a cost-effective way of dishing out delights.
But why confine it to the office? It can be a life-saver to reduce the stress and strain of buying for every member of your family. Use a free tool like drawnames.com to set the whole thing up – you’re allocated a member of the group to buy for, they can create a wish list and you go out and buy what they want. Everyone gets a decent present, you’ve spent much less than usual (hopefully) and you can all have a great Christmas without the strain. Boom!
Set a maximum spending limitDecide what you’re going to buy people and write a Christmas present shopping list. And stick to it!
This is a similar premise to the approach that savvy food shoppers take before they go to the supermarket for the weekly shop.
As with food shopping, if you head out into the high street with no clear idea of what Christmas presents you’re going to buy for your nearest and dearest, there is a strong likelihood you’ll arrive back home with more than you intentionally intended on buying, having spent a lot more than planned. So set aside an hour or two to give some real thought to what the people you’re buying presents for will want, and do some research online to check that you can afford it. Oh, and it goes without saying, don’t deviate away from the list – stick to your guns. And don’t forget to ask for help if you’re struggling for Christmas list gift ideas!
Set a maximum spending limitBe wary of buying online – check and double-check that next day delivery is available
Ordinarily, doing your Christmas shop online would be the first port of call – it’s cheap, there is an unimaginably vast online world of gifts to choose from, and you can do it at home in your dressing gown. Win!
Sadly, your online shopping opportunities will be hugely diminished, however, now that you’ve left your Christmas shop to the last minute. Good deals and a great gift selection are useless if they don’t actually arrive in time for the big day, after all. So before you embark on an online shopping spree, be sure to check and then double-check that your delivery will arrive before Christmas by researching online for final posting dates – many of the big retailers, like Amazon, ASOS, Next, and John Lewis, among others, do cater for disorganised shoppers such as us, even up to the 23rd December in some instances.
This article in the Mirror elaborates further on the final posting dates for the larger retailers.
Make your own gifts, cards and presents
A great, incredibly fun way of avoiding last-minute high street stress without breaking the bank is to get creative and make your own festive treats and gifts.
Like Kirsty Allsopp, you could make fabulous Christmas hampers full of delicious food, your own Christmas decorations, whether garish or glorious, and your own Christmas cards. And this is just the tip of the iceberg – the only limit to what you can make and create is your own imagination! If you’re seeking inspiration, look around online, and on websites like Pintrest.com
Exactly this! You’re not the first foolish person to leave Christmas shopping and preparation until the last minute, and you most certainly won’t be the last – and luckily for you, the high street retailers know it too. There is still more than enough out there to ensure that your festive season won’t be found wanting, and you won’t have to break the bank.
So, keep calm and get gifting in a way that you can afford. Chop chop!
Your wedding doesn’t have to cost the earth
Which of the world’s football transfers make the top 10?
We look back at a few blockbuster classics and their budgets from years gone by.
What hidden costs are involved when buying a house?