Why I’m shopping for Christmas now

Marks & Spencer shortbread tin sitting on brown wrapping paper, with twine, scissors and a Christmas card

Yes. I’m shopping for Christmas now, and I’ve bought loads of presents already!

Why? Well…

Firstly, Ian and I are going to be away for a large portion of December as we are off to explore Cuba (sooo excited!). Because of this, I want to get super organised and get all my presents bought by the end of November if possible, so that once we’re back from our travels, I can just sit there, light a lovely candle, sip on a hot chocolate, pop on some festive music and enjoy the wrapping on the run up to Christmas.

Secondly, it means I can look out for fabulous bargains that I spot in all the sales on the run up to Christmas, as well as spreading the cost out across pay packets. It’s all about being savvy!

My second bedroom is filled with gorgeous gifts already. I do buy quite a lot of presents at Christmas, nothing crazy expensive, just little bits and bobs – so for me it pays to start buying early to be organised as well as to be able to pick up those bargains.

In recent weeks I’ve picked up quite a few fab pieces from Homesense. They’re brilliant for foodie gifts, presents for little ones and gorgeous homeware at great prices. I found a fantastic gift for a little person I know in Tesco for just £3 – this was reduced and looks really substantial, like it’s worth so much more. I’d also recommend Wilko for stationery gifts – if you follow me on Instagram you’ve probably seen me raving about their gorgeous and affordable stationery before.

Christmas card

Busy B gold scissors

Here’s a few more tips if you fancy joining me and getting super duperly organised for Christmas…

Budget

I don’t stick to a particular budget, but I know this works for lots of people. Think about what you can afford to spend and stay within your means. It’s Christmas after all, and it should be about our love for those we share our lives with, not our money.

If you set a budget for £20, why not try to come under this but still get something worth that amount? For example, you might find something on a clearance shelf for much cheaper than it usually costs, or you might be able to use your loyalty points to pay for something. Don’t feel that you have to spend every last penny of your £20 budget, if you manage to find something cheaper but “worth” the amount. This is why I don’t personally set specific budgets. I try to buy enough for each person for as little as possible.

A little idea… Why not speak to family and friends early before Christmas and ask if you could all stick to a particular budget? I’m sure those who really care for you will be happy to do so… they might even be grateful that you suggest it!

Snap up sale bargains

As I mentioned above, shopping early means you can grab bits as and when you see them in the sales.

So far I’ve found some gifts that cost next to nothing but look sooo much more expensive. So if you spot a little sale, clearance section or reduced to clear items on the run up to Christmas, why not grab a few gifts if they have something suitable? Just be sure to check best before dates if you’re buying anything edible.

A great way to keep an eye on the sales in the comfort of your own home, is a deals website such as LatestDeals.co.uk. It’s such a helpful website and just brilliant when it comes to affordable gift ideas. It lists deals from all corners of the internet, from kids toys and homeware, through to wine deals – which is perfect for Christmas time. I always buy wine as gifts at Christmas, as it’s always a crowd pleaser. I always pop a bottle of red in my parents’ Christmas foodie hamper that I create for them too.

As I write this, that page is filled with amazing wine gifts from Christmas wine and Prosecco advent calendars (amazing!) through to hampers, beautiful wine glass gifts and great places to find affordable bottles. So helpful!

Note everything down

I use an Excel spreadsheet each year to keep a track of what I’ve bought and what I still want to buy. It helps to remind you what you’ve already bought, so you don’t double up and can also be used to write lists for cards, food, drink and everything else you need.

Excel is a great way to keep an eye on your spending too, as it’s really easy to add everything up.

Loyalty Cards

When shopping instore, make sure you swipe your loyalty cards to collect points. The points could go towards free items next year, which helps to ease your purse after the Christmas spending. Or… if you already have points on your cards, spend them on Christmas gifts, food or drink to help spread the cost.

Always forgetting your cards, or rather not carry them? Most companies now have apps which provide you with a digital version of the card, which the sales assistant can scan at the till.

Loyalty Apps

I’ve mentioned the o2 Priority app before, but if you’re on o2, it’s a must-have. On the run up to Christmas, WHSmith often gives away free Christmas cards and gift wrap. So it’s definitely one to keep an eye on.

Even throughout the year they have freebies, which are great for presents or a little free treat to self! I’ve even made use of their book deals at WHSmith before, as they often have books for great prices…sometimes as little as just £1.

So if you have any apps like this, be sure to make use of them.

Food and Drink

I quite often get so wrapped up in the excitement of Christmas present planning that I forget about the food and drink that I want to get in to enjoy over the festive period. So I’ve started to make note of the bits I’d like to buy, and every few days I’ll check to see if they’re on offer. This way I can spread the cost across pay packets on the run up to Christmas, and make sure I get them at a better price too.

So don’t forget to add a “Food and Drink” tab to your Excel spreadsheet!

Once Christmas is over…

A sad thought I know. But this is the perfect time to buy in preparation for the next Christmas! Wrapping paper, cards, gifts… everything will be in the sale once Christmas has passed. Take a look at what you have left over from the current Christmas and write a list of what you’d need for the next and buy it in the sale, instead of at full price.

I hope you find these tips helpful on the run up to Christmas!

*This post is sponsored by LatestDeals.co.uk, a really helpful place to find some great presents at fab prices on the run up to Christmas. All thoughts are mine as always.

Join me on social… Twitter: @Amanda_Alston // Instagram: @Amanda_Alston // Facebook: facebook.com/amandaalstonblog

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