10 tips to ensure shopping for Christmas doesn’t drive you crazy

Keep calm and carry on this festive season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… but it can also be pretty hectic, particularly when it comes to braving the shops to make sure all those stockings are filled!

Follow our simple tips to make sure that, ‘all is calm and all is bright,’ during the festive period.

Do your research

Whether you’re ordering online or hitting the shops in person, time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted. You can check prices and compare quality to make sure you’re getting the best deal, and if you’re going to go shopping, you can find out exactly what you want and where to get it, so that you can get in and out of the shops in record time.

Make a list

This might sound obvious, but I’m always amazed by how many people just wander round the shops and wait for inspiration to strike. This makes everything so much more stressful and time-consuming! Write down a few ideas – even if they’re quite vague – to give your shopping trips a bit of structure, and then think about the rough order that you’ll visit your favourite shops in, so that you aren’t wasting any time by doubling back on yourself.

Reserve / Click & collect

Basically, this means ordering or reserving online and then picking it up in the shop. There are a number of benefits for this – the item is more likely to be in stock (and in pristine condition, as it won’t have been handled by the rest of the Christmas shopping hordes), you don’t have to pay delivery costs, and if you don’t like the item or it isn’t what you were hoping for, you can return it straightaway. Most shops offer this option now.

Call ahead

If there isn’t a click & collect option, call the shop instead, before you head into town, to check whether the item you want is in stock. Most shops will happily put something on hold for you until the end of the day, so you can pop in quickly & pick it up without worrying about whether it’ll be a wasted trip.

Set a budget

And stick to it! I find the best way to do this is to pay in cash as much as possible – this means you have a finite amount to spend, and research has shown that you spend less when you’re actually handing over the readies, rather than swiping that magic card. It also makes returns less complicated.

Take a day off

If you’ve got children’s toys to buy, then this is a particularly good idea. Take a day or even just an afternoon off in the middle of the week to hit the shops while they’re quiet, and you’ll get so much more done.

Keep it local

Have you been to your local Christmas fairs? They’re not just for the WI – you can get some really lovely presents, often beautifully homemade, for amazingly low prices, and you’ll often be supporting a good cause too. Check out the noticeboard at your local church or village hall to find out when these events happen.

Do it yourself

Making your own Christmas presents can be much simpler and easier than it sounds. My article next week will feature a few easy to make edible gifts that are bound to impress friends and relatives. Pinterest is also a great place to look for simple homemade recipe ideas.

Think about it

When the pressure is on, it’s easy to just grab whatever looks ‘good enough’ for that hard-to-buy-for uncle or work acquaintance, but this really is a waste of money. Make a list of the people you really want to buy presents for, and then come up with a different solution for those tricky people – for work colleagues, for example, why not just take in a big box of chocolates or homemade cookies and invite everyone to help themselves?

Get some perspective

Christmas can be a crazy and stressful time, but it’s worth remembering that for some, it’s difficult for different reasons. Taking the time to make up a Christmas box for a child in need (search ‘Christmas box appeal’ for more information), donating some food to a local shelter, or writing a few cards to residents of a local nursing home can really make a difference, and help you step back a bit from all the stress. It’s a lovely thing to do with the kids as well, and will give you all a happy Christmas glow.

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