The Ten Don’ts of Christmas Shopping

christmas-santa-2Although Christmas shopping begins as an enjoyable experience, it often decays into a frustrating nightmare. Holiday shopping should be fun. Remember the ten don’ts of Christmas shopping and savour every holiday moment.

Thou Shalt Not Procrastinate
Don’t put your Christmas shopping off until the last week of the holidays. The stores will be overloaded. The other shoppers will be in a panic. The staff will be getting tired of the holiday rush. The deals will be picked over and the hard-to-get items will be sold out. The earlier you can get started, the more enjoyable your Christmas shopping will be.

Thou Shalt Not Be Unprepared
Don’t head out to the stores without a plan. Make a simple list of names and gift ideas. Stick to it as much as you can. This ensures you will not have to run out at the last minute to find something for a forgotten niece or nephew. Good homework will help prevent you from browsing for hours. Preparation will help you stay strong and not succumb to inadequate impulse buys.

Thou Shalt Not Overspend
Don’t end up with a financial hangover and a case of buyer’s remorse. Don’t become caught up in the excitement of consumers consuming at full throttle. Prepare a budget in advance. Decide on appropriate spending targets for each name on your list. Check to make sure that the sum of your holiday spending is well within your means.

Thou Shalt Not Over Do It
Don’t try to do it all in one day. Holiday shopping is no small task. Try several small outings. This will allow you to hit many stores in many different locations, all over town.

Thou Shalt Not Over Pay
Don’t assume that because a price is already marked down, that it is also the best price in town. Christmas retail is the most competitive time of the year. Take the time to do some research on a computer. Browse your flyers. This will help you to come up with gift ideas It will help to flesh out your budget. Most of all, it will help you to take advantage of the best deals.

Thou Shalt Not Walk Alone
Don’t fly solo. The holidays are all about friends and family. Make sure to include them in your shopping plans. They may have gift ideas to share. They may have information about deals They may even want to chip in on some of the gifts you are buying.

Thou Shalt Not Deny Thyself
Don’t forget to eat. Bring a snack. Spoil yourself at the food court. Stay hydrated. Dress in layers to avoid becoming overheated. Buy a special Christmas gift for yourself; after all, you have been so good this year.

Thou Shalt Not Get Stuck In Traffic
Don’t shop during rush hour. Avoid peak times Many retailers have longer store hours for the holidays. Arrive early to get a good parking space. Do your shopping during the week.

Thou Shalt Not Buy Junk
Don’t buy something that will be in the landfill before next Christmas. Sometimes deals are not all that they seem. Sometimes you get what you pay for. Sometimes that plastic toy or knickknack dust collector seems like a great gift idea. Often, it is really just a waste. Choose either gifts that will be consumed right away or gifts that have a practical long-term value.

Thou Shalt Not Be Indiscriminate
Don’t miss the chance to vote with every dollar you spend. Do you prefer to support mega-corporations or small businesses? Would you rather purchase locally made products or imported products? Would anyone on your list appreciate an environmentally friendly choice? Sometimes a green Christmas is not so bad after all.

Three Ways to Buy Christmas Gifts for Less

christmas-santaChristmas is the most expensive time of the year and Christmas gifts are likely to account for a large proportion of your expenditure in the run-up to the festive season, especially if you have a large, extended family or a wide circle of friends. In times of economic difficulties, it makes sense to re-think your normal Christmas gift shopping habits and look for ways in which you can save money whilst at the same time still buying presents that will delight the recipients. Here are some ways to shop smartly for Christmas gifts.

Outlet Malls

Shopping for Christmas gifts at outlet malls is an excellent way to make your dollar stretch further. Outlet malls typically sell branded goods at prices 50 per cent to 70 per cent lower than in normal retail outlets. Clothing, accessories, cosmetics, home wares, books, toys, and many other items can be bought at outlet malls, so it is possible that you will be able to buy most, if not all, of the items on your Christmas gift list on a single trip to an outlet mall.

It is a good idea to set a budget before you leave home and keep to it. Since many items are offered at a large discount, you may be tempted to buy more gifts than you need to and you may end up spending more in total than you would have spent in your local shopping mall.

eBay and Other Online Stores

eBay sellers and owners of other online stores can afford to sell goods at lower prices than traditional retailers because they have lower overheads. Further advantages of doing your Christmas shopping online include being able to browse and order at anytime of the day or night, and not having to fight your way through crowded shopping malls in the run-up to Christmas. If you have friends or family members living overseas, you could order gifts from a website in their home country and arrange for them to be gift wrapped and delivered directly to their door.

If you buy gifts on eBay or other online auction sites, it is important that you set yourself a maximum price for each item and do not bid beyond that. Sometimes it is all too easy to get carried away with “auction fever” and offer more than an item is worth.

Personalize Low-Cost Items or Make Gifts Yourself

Unique Christmas presents can be created by either personalizing a low-cost item or making a gift from scratch. Look in your local dollar store for items that you could personalize. For example, you could buy a hardback notebook in a plain color and cover it with fabric in a design that would appeal to the recipient. If you buy an inexpensive fabric remnant in a fabric store, you could make a unique personalized gift quickly, easily and inexpensively.

Three Quick and Easy Ways to Save Money This Christmas

bear-christmasAlmost everyone overspends in the run-up to Christmas and regrets it in the lean month of January. The good news is that there are some very quick and easy ways in which you can make your hard-earned cash go further this Christmas.

Send Christmas e-cards or Print Your Own Christmas Cards. You may not wish to send Christmas e-cards to everyone on your Christmas card list, but, if you are on a tight budget, it makes sense to send at least some e-cards. You will not only save money on buying paper cards and envelopes but you will also save money on postage, especially if the recipients live overseas. Another option is to print your own Christmas cards using designs that can be downloaded free of charge from the Internet. Some designs allow you to incorporate your own photos, which is a nice idea if you live far from family and friends. It is also possible to print out envelope shapes and fold and glue them together to make your own envelopes, This is more cost effective than buying them and gives your Christmas greetings a personal touch too.

Don’t Buy Any New Christmas Decorations This Year. Most families already have several boxes of Christmas decorations, yet it is easy to be seduced by the Christmas spirit in the run-up to Christmas and buy even more decorations Take out all of your Christmas decorations well in advance and decide which ones you will re-use this year. If you have some time, look on the Internet for instructions and set aside some time at the weekend for the whole family to make new decorations together. Try and use only materials that you already have. Paper chains, for example, are a great decoration to make, as you only need paper, scissors, and glue or scotch tape.

Buy as Much Own-Label Food as Possible. Food bills over the holiday season are always high, whether you are just having a few friends over for a small party or whether you are inviting the whole of your extended family. In order to reduce your spending on groceries at this time of the year, buy as many supermarket own-label products as possible. Own-label products are usually of a similar quality to branded products with the only difference being that the packaging is plain. Your guests will not be able to tell the difference unless they see the packaging. If you are in doubt about the quality of a certain own-label product.