Now that Halloween is over, the UK has already begun gearing up for Christmas with many shops already stocking festive items. While this may feel too early, it’s worth considering that many people have just one more payday between now and 25thDecember. To keep on top of the costs associated with Christmas – and to avoid the stresses of last-minute buying – it can be beneficial to start your gift shopping early whether you’ve got one payday left or not. With food, travel, presents, decorations and events all costing money and taking up time in December, getting a head start on gifts can really pay off.
To help you get through your Christmas to-do list early this year, we’ve compiled our top 5 tips for early Christmas shoppers to help you save. Read on below.
1. Know who you’re buying for
Take time to make a detailed list of who you need to buy gifts for this year. Habit, manners and perceived obligation can often mean we spend too much on certain people, and while loved ones and family members are more essential when it comes to gift-giving, others may not require much – if any – expense. It’s always worth considering your list carefully and asking yourself the following:
- Does this person expect a gift from me?
- Do I want to buy a gift for this person?
- Can I come to an arrangement with this person to agree a set budget/no gift/a token gift?
If you have distinct groups of people on your list, such as co-workers or a certain group of friends, it may be worth seeing if they’ll agree to a ‘secret Santa’, where you only need to buy a gift for one person. Although the pressure to be generous over Christmas is high, it’s always worth remembering that everyone else will be going through the same budgeting worries, so it’s often easy to make small changes which lower the costs for everyone. As long as your intentions are communicated properly, this can really make a big difference to your costs.
2. Set a budget
Some people like to put aside a certain amount of money for each person on their list, while others prefer to shop around first and amend their budget as they go. However you want to go about sharing it out, it’s always worth having a set limit to begin with. Setting aside this money and being strict with how it is spent means it’s easier to budget for other Christmas expenses. You can find a number of Christmas budget planners online, including this one from the Money Advice Service.
If you have assigned a certain budget for each person, remember that you do not have to spend the whole amount. When it comes to receiving gifts, the value lies not in how much the item cost, but how suited it is to the person and how much they like it. Rather than blowing the full budget on a generic Christmas hamper or gift set, you could take the time to source something more suited to their likes, their hobbies or even an in-joke that you share. This can work out much cheaper, and it’ll be remembered and cherished for longer than a generic gift.
3. Consider second hand
Not all gifts have to be brand new, and while some may be wary of second-hand items, you may be surprised at the quality and price you can get if you know where to look. Charity shops, car boot sales, second-hand stores and pawnbrokers can be treasure troves for unique and interesting items which needn’t cost the earth.
Buying used items also means that your money can be stretched further, particularly on luxury goods such as jewellery and high-end watches. When purchasing items like these, buying from a reputable seller like H&T means you’ll receive a fully cleaned, serviced and well-presented piece, which is likely to be far superior to anything new in that budget range. You can view a range of pieces in one of our nationwide stores or via our dedicated online shop.
4. Get creative
As mentioned above, the thoughtfulness of a gift tends to hold a lot of value. Making a gift yourself ensures this box is well and truly ticked, as there are very few people who don’t appreciate a gift which has taken time and effort to put together. You don’t have to be an artist or craftsperson to make your own gifts, of course. Here are some quick ideas:
- Well-presented home-made food and drink (sloe gin, jams, pickles etc.)
- A voucher which can be redeemed for your services (DIY, instrument lessons etc.)
- A photo album or ‘mix tape’
- A surprise visit if you live far away
Use social media to do further research if you’re unsure about what someone will like (assuming they have an online presence), or ask other friends and family for ideas if they know the person well. To further save on money, it can be worthwhile teaming up with others so that a more fitting gift can be bought which would have previously been over your budget.
5. Plan for upcoming sales
While we look towards Christmas, over in the USA they’ve still got Thanksgiving to focus on before the real festivities begin. The day after Thanksgiving is Black Friday, where retailers slash prices to encourage gift buying. This trend has moved to the UK in recent years, and although we don’t tend to observe Thanksgiving, we can still benefit from the associated retail savings.
If you’re planning to buy any large electronics, gadgets or appliances, it may be worth waiting until this year’s Black Friday - which falls on 24th November - as you can save a huge amount on items like these. Online retailers often put on a few days of Black Friday events, with flash sales and timed offers available. It’s worth keeping an eye on these as the time draws closer and new deals are announced.
Whether you’ve already begun your Christmas shopping or not, working with these ideas can really help save your wallet and your time as 2017 draws to a close. With all the pressures and stresses of Christmas, having gifts sorted early on can really help the rest of the holiday season run smoothly. Come and see us in-store for gift ideas and add a more personal touch to your presents this year.