Wednesday, 14 November 2012

My 15 Tried and Tested Christmas Shopping Tips

In the lead up to Christmas, I am going to bring you a series of posts based around the festive season, providing tips and ideas for shopping and gift-giving.

Today I'm going to begin this series with 15 of my Christmas shopping tips. (Although many of them work all year round, too). I follow most of these tips regularly to get the most out of my limited means, and I really do find that my money stretches further without having to compromise on quality or quantity of gifts.

 I know we all stress over our finances at this time of year, so I hope these tips can make the festive season a little less stressful for you...

Louise's 15 Christmas Shopping Tips

1. Set a budget and stick to it.

First thing's first: think about your finances. Calculate how much you need for essential living expenses like food and bills, and then see what you can realistically spare for presents. Set a budget for each person without exceeding your means, and stick to it!

2. Spread the cost over a few pay days if you can. 

Buy a few Christmas presents each time you get paid leading up to Christmas instead of all in one go. Spreading the cost of shopping will put less strain on your finances, and leave you with a little money for personal treats or savings each pay day. Do I have to mention how smug you'll feel when you're organised early, too?

3. Cut down that present list.

You might feel like you're obligated to give gifts to every one of your Facebook friends, but be realistic: 
you don't! When was the last time you even talked to that old friend? When was the last time you saw Great Auntie Doris' distant second cousin? You might have been five? There's my point!

Buy presents for close family and friends, and stop there. A thoughtful Christmas card with a personal message will show distant relatives and old friends you're thinking of them.

4. Secret Santa

If there are a lot of friends in your social group or you work with a large team of people, why not set up a Secret Santa? Everybody will buy and receive one gift; the office will be filled with excitement; and everybody will probably appreciate having a few less presents to pay for.

5. Avoid putting everything on credit and store cards.

It may seem tempting to stick everything on credit to solve all your money woes, but it's not recommended. If you don't pay the minimum payment at the end of the month, and only ever pay the minimum due each time, you'll soon find you owe far more than what your purchases cost you. Think wisely before you break out the plastic. Do you really want to ring in the new year worrying about paying off your credit card?

Remember, your family and friends wouldn't want you to get in to debt just so you could buy them a Christmas present! Shop within your means.

6. Have a clear out.

Need some extra cash? Why not set aside some time to declutter the house, and sell all those unwanted things?  You'll have a less cluttered house, and extra money to put in the Christmas fund!

You could:

~List them on eBay: Old or new, you can sell almost anything on eBay. In my experience, clothes sell particularly well- I've had old high street clothes fetch up to £20 a garment in the past. I've ever sold corrupted iPods because people buy them for parts! You'll probably get much more for your pieces on eBay than anywhere else.

~Alternatively, grab a pitch at your local boot sale and watch the pounds add up as thrifters snap up your wares.

~Sell your old mobile phones to mobile recycling sites:- I'm sure you're all familiar with mobile phone recycling companies such as The brand, model, and condition will determine how much you'll get. I sold an old functioning Samsung Tocco Lite last year for £17, but an iPhone would gain you more.

7. Always check for discount codes.

Whenever I shop online, I do a quick search to see if there's a discount code I can use to bring down the price of my purchases. I usually find one. Even 10% off an order can make all the difference, and that's 10% more in your purse to spend on something else. I usually type "[insert shop/brand name here] discount codes" in to a search engine which will usually bring up several sites that will show the latest codes available.

I often use,, and amongst others.

8. Take advantage of promotions, and offers.

 Keep your eyes peeled for promotion events, and flash sales. They'll pop up regularly before Christmas as retailers compete for our custom and try to bring in extra sales, which provide us with lots of opportunities to pick up great gifts (and party clothes!) for less. Take advantage of all those '3 for 2' and 'buy one get one free' offers, too!

9. Don't be afraid to buy from the sale sections.

Sales aren't all about bargain bin rejects. These days you can find some fantastic gifts for less. Sales enable us to purchase awesome things we couldn't possibly afford full price. They allow us to give more for our money. Being able to buy more for our budget is particularly helpful when trying to fill beauty boxes, hampers, and stockings. And, of course, sales may help you save a few pounds when you really don't have a lot to spare.

10. Use your loyalty cards points.

If you carry loyalty cards which collect points with every purchase throughout the year, make sure to check if you have enough points to turn in to purchases! It's surprising how quickly they add up. Boots Advantage Card points could pay for some great gifts or some make up for the Christmas party, and those Nectar Card points could be used towards your Christmas food shopping in the supermarket.

11. Like and follow your favourite brands on Facebook and Twitter.

Most companies promote themselves through social networking sites every day. They keep you updated with all the latest sales, promotions, and competitions and often share exclusive promotions, and flash-sales that will not be announced elsewhere. So if you're a social networking addict this is the perfect way to be on the ball.

12. Sign up to receive newsletters from the companies you love.

The big name brands usually email newsletters to our inboxes a couple of times a week to share all the latest promotions, sales, and discount codes. Some companies also offer a discount code for signing up which you can use against your first purchase, and some may even send you a discount code on your birthday! It's a no-brainer, really!

13. Can you get the same cheaper elsewhere? 

Before you hit the checkout button, step back and do a quick search. Can you find the exact same product elsewhere for a lower price?  Can you get it somewhere that has a free delivery option? 

Buying CDs, DVDs, or games? Compare prices between Amazon, HMV, and Play.

Shopping for books? You can often pick up books for far less than the RRP with the weekly shop in the big name Supermarkets, and Amazon sell many under the RRP, too.

Looking for something fashionable? Check ASOS. They sell products from lots of other brands beside their own- such as Cath Kidston, River Island, and Benefit, and they offer free delivery and regular promotions!

14. Do it yourself.

If you have a skill and a house full of materials, why not make something for a friend or relative? You could make some awesome jewellery, bake some festive treats, make a mix CD, knit a scarf... draw, sew, crochet... what ever it is you do best! Your loved ones will love the personal gesture, and if you already have the materials you'll save yourself a little money, too.

15. Pick up things throughout the year.

Okay, it's too late for this one now, but next year you could pick up presents throughout the year. A gift here, a gift there, and when Christmas rolls around again you could have a stockpile of gifts even Santa would be jealous of!

Just remember, Christmas is just one day of the year, and your friends and family wouldn't want you to go in to debt to pay for their gifts. Your loved ones will understand if you don't have much to spare, and if you can't afford to spend much, why not spare your time instead? Invite your friends round for dinner and and have  a catch up over a couple of movies and some drinks instead.  After all, isn't spending time with the people you love the best part of Christmas, anyway?


  1. omg louise this is THE most helpful post! i wish i had more of an income but you have given me confidence that i might actually manage my christmas shopping without a nervous breakdown ahaha xxx

    1. Aw thanks! I know just how you feel. I don't have much money to my name right now, so I thought I'd share these because they really do make the most of what I do have. Good luck with stress-free Christmas shopping! You'll be the first to manage it! Haha. xx

  2. I was definitely agree to the first commenter your post so helpful. I was also thinking how can I manage my salary for this coming Christmas that good I found your blog to inspire valuable information you provide it here. Thanks!

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