Christmas shopping: all-year-round or at the last minute?

Are you a last-minute shopper? Frantically loading up your shopping basket in an attempt to make sure all your nearest and dearest have gifts on Christmas Day, while the loudspeaker announces five minutes until closing time?

Or are you more organised, and spread your shopping over the year, so you can relax on Christmas Eve and not be stressed out with the last minute rush?

Both have their advantages and pitfalls, so here are a few tips to help you make the most of your individual shopping style, without blowing the budget.


Make a budget (and stick to it)

The danger of last-minute shopping is that you end up buying whatever you can, with little regard for your budget, just because you are in such a hurry to get things done. Make sure you go out with a list of what you intend to buy for each person you are buying for, and an amount you are prepared to spend both on the individual, and in total.

Shopping throughout the year? It is likely to be easier to stick to a list, but bear in mind that you may forget what you already have – and go over budget.


Don’t ‘top up’ presents

Just because you got an item on special, doesn’t mean you should ‘top up’ a gift to someone. If you have purchased what you intended to, you can either save the difference or use it to buy a gift for someone else – especially if you think it would be perfect, but is over the budget you have set.


What’s ideal for each person?

Spend some time thinking about what would be a suitable gift for each person. Make a list of what you intend to buy and the shops you can get it from. This step will help you focus on what you are getting rather than just trying to find something at all costs. And you will save money in the process.


Make ‘extra gifts’ part of your budget

It’s a good idea to budget in some ‘extra’ presents, for those unexpected drop-ins. A couple of bottles of wine, a good book or some spare boxes of chocolates make a good stand-by, just in case.

Whether you are a last-minute or a spread-out shopper, a little bit of planning will ensure a more pleasant shopping experience, and less chance of a budget blow-out.


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