Here are my tips on how to manage your Christmas gift-buying this year, to give yourself a thrifty holiday.
Be time efficient
It can be easy to head straight to the shops with some vague ideas of what to buy others, but this can waste time. You know when you end up trudging from store to store, looking for the perfect gift and never quite finding it? You have to do your preparation before you leave the house, or before you log on to a shopping website. The more focused your gift list, the easier it will be to find and buy them. And you won’t fall into the trap of buying lots of mediocre gifts out of desperation!
Start with a budget. Pick a figure that you can afford and stick to. Do not allow yourself a little bit extra for collateral, pick a figure and stick to it! The overspending will come back to haunt you when the credit card bills hit the hallway floor in 2017. If you want to top up your Christmas spending budget, consider selling unwanted items using an online auction facility.
Make a list of the gifts you want to give to which recipients, and also write down which stores you will go to to buy the gifts with a rough estimate of cost. I’ve found that sometimes I have overestimated the cost of goods (and been lucky to find things on offer), so my budget can go further. This is always a nice surprise.
Do not feel ashamed to buy gifts that are on offer or for sale! Some stores are still having their mid-autumn sales and you may be able to pick up bargain gifts now. Check outlet stores too for cheaper gifts and party wear.
Compare prices online and it is always worthwhile buying books, music, and DVDs online rather than in-store for the best price.
If you have loyalty cards for stores, now can be a good time to cash in on their offers, or redeem your points off gift buying. Major supermarkets can offer great loyalty scheme deals on magazine subscriptions, activity days and other treats that make great gifts.
If you are cash-poor but time-rich (and creatively minded) you can make your own Christmas cards, food hampers, and gifts. I have made costume jewellery in the past to give to female friends, enlarged landscape and art photos to put in frames, and a friend of mine made a coffee table out of reclaimed timber as a gift! I would recommend doing this for people whom you know shall appreciate the effort that went into the gift, and/or mix homemade gifts up with shop-bought ones.
You can also recycle and alter old decorations, cards, clothes to create new ones.
For years now I have been using crepe and tissue paper to wrap gifts with, rather than ‘proper’ wrapping paper – it is very cheap and looks just as good.
Plan for next Christmas
This may sound crazy, but with big sales starting just after Christmas it is worthwhile making the most of it – buy your Christmas cards, wrapping paper, decorations and some gifts during these sales. This will give you a head start and when Christmas arrives, you won’t have to budget so much as you’ve already bought part of your Christmas list.