How to get a head start on Christmas NOW!
Agh, not the C-word! It seems especially wrong to be talking about it in what is techinally still summer, (summer officially ends on September 21st after all!) and believe me, no one gets wound up more than me to see Christmas displays in shops before Halloween is done and dusted.
However, that doesn’t mean we should ignore it completely – especially if like me you are on a tight budget. In my old job, Christmas was something I could afford in one go in my November paypacket and I learnt the hard way (by sticking it on my credit card) that this was no longer the case when changing jobs, going part time and having a child to buy for!
Here are my top tips on getting ahead with it now.
- Start a dedicated Christmas fund
This is definitely my number 1 tip. Even if you can only save £10 a month, that’s still £120 extra for Christmas over the year. It might be an idea to work out roughly how much you need, divide up the cost and pay that amount monthly. Obviously this would ideally be started in January, but we still have the best part of 4 months to go. Could you save £20, £30, £50 each month between now and December?
Need ideas on how to earn extra cash for Christmas? Have you ever thought of trying Matched Betting?
- Look for reduced / sale items and buy throughout the year
I wouldn’t recommend buying any old tat just because it is reduced and making it fit a certain person, but if you see something on sale that would be a great gift for someone, use your Christmas fund to pay for it and stash it away. Make a note somewhere if necessary so you don’t end up re-buying later on!
It can be tricky to do this with children’s toys too far in advance as you don’t know what they might be into, but I always keep a lookout in Home Bargains for stocking fillers and smaller gifts for friends and relatives. They often have amazing savings such as an Aquadoodle for £7.99 (rrp £25.00). The stock is constantly changing but recently I have seen plenty of branded toys such as WWE figures, My Little Pony, Shopkins and Disney. Aside from Christmas, these kind of presents are also ideal for gifts for the endless birthday parties too.
So far for my 3 year old daughter I have bought a Lego Friends advent calendar for £10 (rrp £25) and a wooden Dolls house with furniture for £38 rrp £79.99. Neither of these were planned, it was just a case of seeing a bargain at the time (The Lego calendar was in Sainsbury’s last January but it seems to have been a good bet as she LOVES Lego Friends at the moment.) It’s great to think we already have over £100 of gifts paid for in advance and at a fraction of the cost.
- Plan big purchases for Black Friday
As much as I love a good sale, the first couple of years Black Friday became “a thing” over here I actively detested it and refused to join in. Another American thing coming over here leading to long queues and fisticuffs in Asda over 50” TVs?! No thanks.
Then everything seemed to calm down – lessons had obviously been learnt somewhere – and what we are left with is often a 4 day weekend of deals and offers in stores and online. Black Friday is now officially when I start – and end – my Christmas shopping (online – with a quick solo swoop around the shops to finish off). Everything I have not previously bought on sale I make a mammoth effort to buy over this weekend. Things may not necessarily be on sale but the point is I have waited to see if they are, and it is very unlikely that they will be on any sort of offer after this weekend until after Christmas so I can go ahead and buy. It’s a massive box ticked off before December has started giving me the rest of the month to focus on the food shop and festivities – as well as know my gift budget is not going to continue to spiral.
Last year I got a great Black Friday offer from Amazon on a Nintendo Switch for my husband, saving around £50. I had also planned to buy some WWE tshirts for some friends and the WWE online shop had a sale plus an extra 20% off storewide for Black Friday.
- Use cashback where possible
I always try and pair by Black Friday spree with cashback sites such as Quidco or TopCashback. If you are buying an expensive item such as a games console this can result in a nice little payout. The best cashback amount I have ever got was 10% on a purchase of £428 – so £42 back!
- Use store loyalty cards
I have previously stated what a fan I am of the Boots Advantage Card and its stackable offers. I always make a conscious effort to find gifts for friends and family in their 3 for 2 range – I have a couple of female birthdays to buy for in December so this helps too. I always save up all my points throughout the year for the Boxing Day sales – I had £60 of points last year which you can see how I spent in the sales here.
This year I am also following The Organised Mum’s organised Christmas. Already in week 1 I am looking to book our meet Santa tickets which will keep the cost spread, not to mention ensuring we have a date in the calendar sorted without scrabbling to find a time we are free that isn’t sold out!
What are your tips for getting a head start on Christmas? Let me know in the comments!