Thursday, 23 October 2014

50 Christmas Shopping Tips 2014

With just nine weeks to go 'til Christmas, most of us will have started our Christmas shopping by now, or at the very least, started thinking about it. If you haven't, it's never too early to start.

I know that Christmas shopping can be an incredibly stressful task, particularly when you're worrying about how to make the pennies stretch as far as possible, so I've put together 50 of my Christmas shopping tips to help make your shopping as stress free as possible this year.

In the list, you'll find dozens of money-saving tips, and a few words of advice for getting through your shopping in one piece. I hope they help!


1. Set a budget for each person on your gift list and and try to stick to it. 


2. Only spend what you can actually afford. Remember, Christmas is only one day, and your loved ones won't want you to get in to debt just so they can receive a gift from you. 


3. Spread the cost over the next nine weeks.


4. Starting next year, spread the cost of Christmas throughout the year. A gift here, a gift there, and you'll barely notice a dent in your bank balance by the time December comes around.

5. Alternatively, leave your Christmas shopping until a few days before Christmas, if you can, so you can take advantage of pre-Christmas sales. 


6. If you're not seeing some friends and relatives until after Christmas, don't buy their presents before Christmas; wait for the January sales.


7. Take advantage of sales throughout the year to snap up presents for less.


8. Shop around for the best price. Can you get that perfume, DVD box set, or tablet cheaper elsewhere? For example, when I shop for books, CDs, and DVDs online, I always compare prices between Amazon, Play, Tesco and ASDA, and then buy the cheapest.

9. Take advantage of 'buy 1 get 1 free', and '3 for 2' promotions, etc. You'll get an extra present for your money, and one less gift to worry about paying for.


10. Go shopping with a friend and split the buy one get one free promotions. It's a sensible way to save yourself 50% on a present or two.

11. Search online for discount codes before every online purchase. There is almost always one knocking about for every popular online store. Just enter "[insert brand / shop name here] discount codes", in to a search engine, and it will lead you to the appropriate websites. If you can't find a discount code, perhaps wait for a couple of days before you make your purchase, and search again.


12. Look out for discount codes in your favourite magazines. They even pop up in daily newspapers from time to time as the festive season nears.

13. Sign up to website newsletters; you will often get a discount code as an incentive to join them.


14. Follow your favourite brands on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with promotions, sales, and discount codes.


15. Keep an eye on social media and newsletter emails for flash sales.

16. Shop in outlet shops. Stock is usually heavily discounted, meaning you could potentially save yourself a small fortune, or even afford something high quality that was originally out of your budget. My favourite outlet villages are Bicester Village near Oxford, and Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth.


17. Take advantage of free delivery options and offers. You could save five or six quid or more each time, depending on the shop.


18. Place orders online with friends and split the delivery costs to save each of you a couple of pounds.


19. Shop with cash and not cards- it's easier to see how much you're spending, and you're more likely to stick to your budget.

20. Don't be tempted to stick everything on credit and store cards, especially if you won't be able to pay the bill off in full by the end of the month. If you only pay the minimum amount, you'll end up having to pay back far more than what your purchases originally cost you.

21. Use your Nectar Card points towards presents or your Christmas food shop n the supermarket.


22. Use your shop loyalty cards (which collect points with every purchase) to pay for presents. All those Boots Advantage Card points your make up addiction has earned you come in handy at this time of year!

23. Shop through a cash back website, to get cash back on your online purchases, (and find the latest discount codes). I swear by Quidco, and use it every time I shop online with popular high street stores. Cashback rates can vary from brand to brand; some offer 2% or 3% cashback, but some may be 10% or more. Just last week I got 8% cashback on this year's Body Shop advent calendar, saving myself £4 off a £50 spend! Not too shabby!

24. Grab a bargain on eBay or other similar auction-style sites. There are millions of brand-new items just waiting to be snapped up for bargain prices.


25. Amazon is also a fantastic website for finding brand new things for less than the RRP- and they sell almost anything you can think of.


26. Buy beauty products from discounted beauty-websites like Fragrance Direct. Direct Cosmetics, Cosmetics Fairy, and All Beauty.


27. Shop from websites that stock a range of brands, and buy everything in one place with one delivery cost.


28. Don't rule out shopping in charity shops. You never know what brand-new things you'll find, or what vintage treasures await. You might come across a first edition of your friend's favourite book, or a beautiful vintage dress your stylish bestie would go crazy for.


29. Remember to leave instructions on your online orders so delivery people will know where to leave your parcels if you're not home to accept them. You don't want to be running down to the sorting office to find your parcels when you've got a million other festive things to do.


30. If you're planning on making purchases close to Christmas, make sure you know the last guaranteed delivery dates (online and in store) to avoid disappointment on Christmas Day. It will vary from shop to shop.




31. Also find out the last postage dates if you need to send anything through the post office or by courier.


32. Make sure you find out what the return policy is for gifts you purchase, and always keep your receipts. Most stores can give you a gift receipt which doesn't show how much you paid, so you can pass it on to the recipient in case they need to return or exchange the gift.

33. Bring your own shopping bags with you. It may only save you a few pence on carrier bags, but it all adds up, right?


34. Popping in to the city centre for Christmas shopping? Take the park and ride to save money on expensive parking, petrol, and public transport fees. 


35. Bare in mind, things are often cheaper online than on the high street. If you're looking for the best price, use your phone to do a quick search online to compare prices when you're shopping in brick and mortar shops.


36. Books, DVDs and CDs are often cheapest in the supermarkets


37. Buy those perfect gifts as and when you see them, because they're not always there when you go back!

38. Only buy presents for the kids.


39. Only give presents to your immediate family and closest friends.

40. If there are a lot of people in your friendship group, family, or work place, suggest doing a Secret Santa. Everybody will buy and receive one gift, and everybody will save a small fortune!



41. Go shopping on weekdays; they will generally be quieter than weekends.


42. Do your Christmas shopping first thing in the morning. The shops will be quieter, the shelves will be fuller, and the staff will usually be a lot happier to help before they're stressed, tired, and over-worked. 


43. Be patient with shop staff. Yes, the queue may be a mile long, but the cashiers will be working as fast as they can to serve everybody. Remember they're only human, and they'll probably be exhausted from working so hard. Have you ever worked in retail during December? It's exhausting!


44. Don't wait until a minute before closing time to head to the tills, whether you have one item or a trolley load of purchases to pay for. Don't be that guy; don't be a jerk. The sales assistants won't get paid to stay late to ring up your purchases. They'll probably be exhausted after working a long shift and dying to get home to put their feet up. Put yourself in their shoes: would you be happy to stay an extra half an hour or more after closing time for free to serve lingering customers, after working a full 9 hours already? Didn't think so.


45. Let the person behind you in the queue jump ahead if they have less things to pay for.

46. Don't even think about queue jumping. See that long line of people at the tills? They're queueing for a reason; to be served when it's their turn. If they can queue patiently, I'm sure you'll get through it, too.

47. Don't wear thick, heavy clothes for Christmas shopping; you're likely to get hot and flustered in busy shops. Wear layers you can easily remove if you get too hot.


48. Wear comfortable shoes. You're likely to be doing A LOT of queueing.

49. Carry a bottle of water in your bag. Christmas shopping is thirsty work and you might be shopping and queueing for some time before you can stop to refuel.


50. If you're still struggling to make ends meet, why not sell your unwanted stuff on eBay, at a boot sale, on your blog, or through local or national classified pages / websites?



And those are 50 of my Christmas shopping tips! I hope a few of them help you as you do your Christmas shopping this year. Will you be using any of them?

Do you have any Christmas shopping tips I haven't included in this post and would like to share? Let me know in the comments below!

3 comments:

  1. Can I borrow you!! I don't start until after my youngest's birthday (near the end of November) luckily we save, so the cash is there for us to get it done quite quickly! yes to charity shops too! and yes to being patient with shop staff (I've done Christmas retail work, yup it's tough!) these are great tips Louise! x x x

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  2. I'm so pleased that I've done so much of my Xmas shopping already> I'm picking things up as and when I see the perfect present.

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  3. Great tips! I've started some of my shopping - but still have a bit to go. Rich is from quite a big family and we always do a secret santa which is awesome!

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