It’s November. You’re half way through your Christmas shopping, right? If not, I’m going to convince you that starting your Christmas shopping in September is fun, thrifty and the secret to stress free-ish festivities.
I spent many a university holiday working in shops. I can’t count how many sets of girlfriends and wives I wrapped Christmas lingerie for – no she’s probably not ‘your size’ and no, not all women like red.
I couldn’t believe the number of men who would come into the underwear store on 23 or 24 December to buy a Christmas gift for their partner. When closing up shop on one Christmas Eve, a man said his wife would go without a present that year because of me. This didn’t weigh too heavily on my conscience – if he left it until 5pm on Christmas Eve, what did he expect?
You see, I’m the youngest of five children. My brother and sisters are all married and I have a total of eight nieces and nephews. I feel it’s a pleasure and a blessing to belong to such a big family. If you add to that my boyfriend’s family, my friends, their children, and Arteta (my hamster) – we’re looking at a Christmas shopping list of over 40 people.
Naturally, my boyfriend and I go Dutch buying Christmas presents, but even with that in mind, there’s no way I could afford so many presents on my November/December pay packet.
My Christmas shopping rules: document, discount, delivery
So, a few years ago, I made up some Christmas shopping rules:
Rule one – from September, buy two presents or so per week.
Rule two – keep a running list of ideas and actual purchases. This has since taken the form of a nifty shared Google doc.
My boyfriend and I jot present ideas down when things occur to us. There’s a column in the spreadsheet for ideas and one for purchases.
We then make the purchase when I get an offer from the shop (I’m subscribed to my favourite stores’ email updates), or realise I’ve developed a list of things I want to buy from one shop and therefore save on delivery.
If one of us buys something, we just update the spreadsheet. It saves lots of tedious questions about who has bought what and you can make sure you don’t buy them something too similar the following year. Oh yes, I cross references the tabs and spreadsheets!
Rule three – avoid the high street. I’d say 90% of the things I buy, I buy online. I utilise all discount codes available on sites like vouchercodes.co.uk. And, of course, you have some additional consumer rights when shopping online.
This year we’ve come to an agreement that we’ll just buy for one sibling each so that will help cut back. But I do wonder whether my over-the-top techniques are used by other closet Christmas planners like me? Or does the above sound like a Christmas nightmare?