It's that most wonderful time of year again. Christmas. Though for many, it's comes with the impending doom and gloom of Christmas present shopping. If you're like myself and have a friend or family member who loves designer furniture and items for the home, or maybe you have someone who needs to buy you a particularly stylish gift - then this is the article for you. There are a few considerations everyone should think about when it comes to shopping and surviving the Christmas shopping rush, so we've laid out a few ground rules to make the trauma of festive purchasing a little easier to handle.
First things, first: Set a budget. It may sound obvious, but this will stop you from overspending from day one and give you clear parameters on what you can spend your hard earned money on. Nothing more depressing than looking at your credit card statement come January and realise how much you actually forked out on everyone!
One thing I always do to avoid the initial frustration and depression Christmas shopping which helps my lack of enthusiasm for the daunting task ahead, is to designate a 'Window Shopping Day'. This might sound crazy, but if you're like me, my first attempt is always fruitless and I seem to end up buying something for myself instead of other people. I've basically solved this little dilemma by accepting this happens every year, so I dedicate the first day to just researching and scoping out what's out there. It also helps you to think outside the box a bit, as I tend to gravitate towards my favourite shops and department stores (where I like buying stuff for myself essentially!) rather consider places I wouldn't normally go, which is where gifts for others usually end up coming from. Get this day out of the way and you're half way there already I find. You can also use it to go home and compare prices online too to avoid being ripped off or being fooled into a bargain.
If you're ultra organised and want to minimise the financial strain on your bank balance in December, you can always bargain shop all year round. Now to do this, again, set a budget and make a list of who you need to buy for and what kind of designer brands they like. Use the Notes function on your phone, or if you're fancy like me, use Evernote which I can't live without. Keep referring to it when you shop, and you'll never know when the inspiration to buy early will occur! Don't forget, large furniture like sofas, handmade furniture or kitchen installations (if you're going all out for a loved one) have epic lead times usually and could take up to 8-12 weeks. Another reason to plan ahead if you can.
The best time to shop is on the weekends. Wrong. Research shows, to avoid the crowds and give yourself some time and energy to survive the city centres, shopping on a Tuesday or Thursday during November and December is much better for your sanity. So it's worth taking a day off work if you can afford to do this, preferably after your initial Window Shopping Day of course!
Do your homework and read reviews and find where you can get money off! We all have smart phones now, so as well as going on Amazon to read reviews and compare prices, it's also worth downloading a few other apps like Groupon for daily discount vouchers, Honey for coupons and discount codes and Touch of Modern for sales on designer goods. An essential second-screen experience for when you browse the shops and I guarantee you'll feel great when you spot a way to save money.
It may sound daft, but Christmas shopping is like running a marathon. But with credit cards rather than a Fit Bit. Testing your ability to weave effortlessly through crowds of shoppers, testing the resistance of your arm muscles with how many shopping bags you can carry, or seeing how long you can stare at your computer screen without going crossed-eyed. All very exhausting. So eat before you shop. You need the energy and stamina, it will reduce the number of retail breakdowns you have and the potential screaming at your partner in the middle Beauty floor of John Lewis.
And finally, avoid sales assistants and keep the receipts. They want you to buy things you don't need which definitely aren't on your list, and get paid commission to do so most likely. No one, absolutely no one these days should be offended if someone doesn't like a gift and wants to exchange it. So don't feel rejection and insert the receipt inside if you can (it will soften the blow if they hate it and you won't need to know they went straight back to the store). Remember, they will be incredibly grateful you thought of them in the first place!