Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Christmas Organisation week 10 - Shopping for Gifts

Did you see last years Littlewoods Christmas advert? It actually made me FURIOUS! Suggesting you buy an uncle an HTC mobile phone? I'm sorry but I wouldn't be spending upwards of £100 on uncle whatever his name is?  Especially when it is likely I'll get someone crap in return!  I know, I know.  It is better to give than to receive and all that.  It doesn't mean I have to bankrupt myself in the process though does it?  I feel that for a lot of people Christmas has become ridiculously and needlessly expensive because of retail advertising. It is perfectly easy to keep Christmas affordable and still give lovely gifts. So I'm going to tell you how I do it.  Just so you know, there will be no secret trick showing you how to buy hugely expensive gifts on the cheap.  This is about being sensible, working within a budget and giving lovely gifts that won't have your wallet and you groaning under the strain!  So read on...

Do Not Feel Pressured

This is far too much...

First of all, no matter what adverts the companies trot out at Christmas touting extravagant gifts do not let yourself be drawn into it.  The fact is, most people you know are skint this year and even if you aren't it doesn't mean people should EVER expect expensive gifts.  No one should judge you for the gifts give and you should never feel upset or embarrassed by the gifts you give just because they don't cost a lot.  A person who would judge you, or is ungrateful probably doesn't deserve a gift at all! If you feel the need to, let people know that you are scaling Christmas back this year.  This will help with people that have "high expectations" about gifts.

Concentrate on kids

Look at their smiling faces!

Christmas is really for kids isn't it?  I know the best gift I will get this Christmas is seeing Holly opening and enjoying her gifts.  I am personally quite happy not to get gifts from others as long as Holly does, so if people have kids I tend to buy for their kids only.  Similarly my partner and I only buy each other small pressies as our main focus is Holly.  If you do feel the need to give other parents a gift I would give something  homemade (we'll touch on that later), or something like chocolates or wine.

Spreading the Cost and setting a budget 

Start saving!

 I think it is safe to say that no one wants to be feeling the pinch over the winter months. Your energy bills are higher, so adding the cost of gifts, cards, food etc isn't going to leave you with a very healthy bank balance. There are many ways to spread the cost of Christmas. I do not recommend putting your purchases on credit cards, store cards or catalogue shopping.  Chances are you'll be finished paying it all off just in time for next year.  I recommend first of all setting a budget. You would be surprised how many people don't do this, and have no idea how much they have spent until the bank statement or credit card bill gives them a shock! First, write a list of everyone you will be giving gifts to. You know their likes and dislikes so write down what type of gift you plan to get them and the maximum you want to spend.  Total up your entire list and you have your budget!  Pretty simple?! Choose how much money you want to save each week until you reach your target.  It is that easy. The earlier in the year you do this, the less you will have to save each week as you'll have more time to save up.

If you can't save up, and some people really do struggle with saving (maybe there is a gene the scientists haven't isolated yet), there is another way to spread the cost. All you need to remember is, it is never too early to start your Christmas shopping! I start in the January sales every year.  Using your budget list, carry it with you at all times. Have christmas in the back of your mind all year long.  Every time you plan to go shopping, especially when you see Sales are on, look for potential gifts!  This will get you better gifts at half the expense! I also recommend using websites like Buyapowa and groupon to get good deals too. By the time it gets to Christmas you should be at least close to ticking off all the names on your list! I would say that I have usually finished my shopping by the end of October (at the very latest) every year.  This means that by the time Dec rolls around I am organised, stress free and have a healthy bank balance too.  What's not to love about that?

Lastly, don't forget your loyalty cards! You are spending your hard earned pennies, so if you can get something in return then do it! Also, I suggest you get a Nectar card (if you haven't already). Many retailers now give nectar points. For the full A to Z list of retailers click HERE. You'll be surprised how many are on there!

Homemade/Handmade Gifts


Yummy and oh so cute!

The cheapest and I think nicest gifts you can give are things you've made yourself.  They show effort and thoughtfulness in a way that shop bought gifts don't.  Handmade gifts can be as simple or as difficult as you want them to be. How much time and effort you want to put into these might be entirely dependant on how crafty you are and who you plan to give them to! As a rule of thumb, simple handmade gifts are fine for teachers, neighbours and fellow parents.  Make a few batches of biscuits or cookies and pop them in a nicely decorated jar.  To be honest, any baked goods you can make usually go down a treat! It can be that simple if you want it to be. Save the more time consuming and complicated makes for close friends and family.  I won't write much more about handmade gifts here as I plan to make it the subject of my next post. So look out for my HOMEMADE GIFT IDEAS post next week.

There is possibly more I could say about the topic of Christmas shopping but I think I've rambled on enough.  So what about you?  Do you find any of my advice useful or do you already do these things yourself?  Maybe you have a few tips of your own you'd like to share?  Go on then, you know where the comments box is! 

Give your piggy bank a Happy Christmas!


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