Thursday, 14 November 2013

15 Christmas Shopping Tips.

It's only Halloween.  It's only Bonfire night.  It's only November.  Arse.  It's November.  That means next month is December and with that comes Christmas.  Oh shitsticks.

Every year I vow that the next year I'll be more organised, yet my slatternly ways always assume there's more time than there actually is until bamf, turkeys, tinsel and presents hit me at 100mph sending my head into a 360 exorcist spin.

I have no pigs, let alone ones with blankets.

More importantly I don't have enough Gin to face Operation Christmas.

It's a minefield of strategic planning.  You can blow a thousand elves, but essentially it's still all down to you.  Especially when The Husband is an atrocious Bah Humbug. Buy the presents, wrap the presents, buy the food, cook the food, decorate the tree, psyche the kids up, keep the magic alive, feed the bloody reindeer etc I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

I have started shopping.  Just.  I have about six small presents bought. Go team me!

If you start too early you end up buying more and more as The Cretins add more and more to their Christmas Lists, you get seduced by the onslaught of offers that just keep appearing and you end up needing to fund an extension to store all the loot in as you've run out of hiding places.  There's that much stuff hidden under the bed The Husband thinks you're hiding a fella under there and you try to make the kids believe your bed has mumps.  Leave it to the last minute and nothing is in stock, anywhere.  You're mentally calculating how much in therapy it will cost you when your sweet spawn turn into emo teens who think melancholy is not getting a robotic fish for Christmas 2013.

Unfortunately, sorry, you have to plan.  I know, I know it leaves a bad taste in my mouth too, it even makes the Gin taste off.

Never fear though, put some sweatpants on, take your bra off/scratch your balls, grab some chocolate, turn the tv on and I'll do some of the hard-work for you because I'm nice like that I have no life  I am an insomniac.

1. Lists are your friend.  Obviously get the children to do lists then from their lists make a list of what you're buying them and what other family members are buying them.  I'm a fan of sending relatives lists as although they may think Mickey's Clubhouse teddy is adorable, your Ben10 mad son may disagree somewhat.  In the age of technology you can make lists on amazon or use thethingsiwant.com which allow you to share them easily and for people to mark what they buy so you can keep track.

2.  Set a budget.  I know it sounds obvious but don't be airy fairy about it, set a figure.  Do it.  Not just in total but per person.

3. The figures you just came up with? add 25% shhh! Just do it.  Now, the catch is you're not allowed to spend this bit until the week before Christmas.  Trust me, you'll get to the week before Christmas and you'll realise there is something you forgot or even someone you forgot.  Maybe you didn't factor in the little bits and bats that make up stocking fillers.  Whatever, you'll be glad of this extra money.  If by some miracle you don;t need it, Bombay Sapphire baby!

4. Be wary of offers and don't fall into The False Economy Trap.  Some will be splendid, others will just entice you into buying crap you don't want or need all for the sake of saving a few quid.  They may be great value, but only if you actually need whatever it is that is 'too good to say no to'.  Otherwise you've spent funds yet have things that aren't on the list.

5. Do your research.  Prices can vary drastically for the same item depending on where you buy.  Shop around.

6. Shop online.  You avoid the crowds, the manic panic of shoppers with Christmas berserker fever in their eyes as they elbow, shove and snatch their way through over crowded stores trampling on anyone that gets in their way as you then have to walk battered and bruised in the cold and dark with bags full of things that play stupid tunes every time you step off a kerb as the bags threaten to break.  Not fun.  Stay at home, have a glass of vino and watch Eastenders whilst you browse online.  You're also more likely to stick to budget, will find it easier to compare prices and find promotions and won't be tempted by shiny displays of 'must have' items that nobody has ever mentioned wanting.

7. Be wary of post and packing costs.  Your £3.99 gift isn't a bargain if it costs £4.99 to have it delivered.  Try and limit how many places you buy from to save on delivery costs.

8. Read reviews first.  You may find that the overpriced all singing all dancing plastic nightmare you bought is actually riddled with faults and will be a huge disappointment.

9. If you're buying something electronic, test it works before you wrap it to avoid disappointment on the big day.

10. Utilise companies such as Quidco and Top Cash Back to not only save money but earn money too as you buy things you were going to buy anyway.

11. Save up loyalty points throughout the year to use at Christmas, it all adds up be it boots points of Tesco vouchers.

12. Before you wrap gifts, make a list of what batteries they take so you can make sure you have batteries for everything ready.  Nothing worse a being a kid who gets a toy they can't play with on Christmas day because they have no batteries.

13. Sign up to sites such as secret sales and Zulily for bargains but make sure you research before you buy, some of the bargains are amazing, others may be cheaper on none sale sites.  Also keep an eye out on sites such as groupon as sometimes experiences are better than items and can make unique gifts.

14. Pound shops are your new best friend.  Don't be shy, take a deep breath and CHARGE! You may be surprised at what you find, it's not all tat and you can get oodles of stocking fillers.

15. Before you spend petrol and sanity and go to Waterstones or WHS for book gifts, try The Book People or Red House for some utter bargains.

16. Good luck.  You'll need it.  Just think, you'll have a whole year until it starts all over again.  Don't cry, snot and Gin don't mix.

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