The festive countdown can naturally feel a little frantic. December always seems to rush by in a tinsel-sprinkled blur of house decorating, present shopping (and wrapping!), mince pie baking, and planning for Christmas dinner.
Of course, it's much more enjoyable to be able to put our feet up and enjoy the Christmas countdown, listening to our favourite songs and watching those classic, heart-warming movies. But with so much to do and organise, this can sometimes feel impossible.
However, we've put together our top tips to help tick one thing off your to-do list: present shopping.
Whether you're buying for two, twenty, or even more, present shopping can be time-consuming, stressful and expensive. With our tips, we're hoping it'll feel a little more like Christmas cheer than Christmas chore!
1. Set a budget
One of the best reasons to start present shopping early is to save money. Not only will you have time to organise a budget, but you won't be doing any last-minute panic-buying or paying extortionate fees for next-day delivery.
If you want to be super organised, you could have a separate budget for gifts and another one for everything else to do with Christmas – like a new tree or decorations, or food and drink on the day itself. These organisational lists will help keep track of your finances at a time that's typically one of the most expensive periods of the year.
2. Who and how many are you buying for?
You'll probably have a good idea of who you're buying for, but write down everyone's names anyway – it's amazing how the number of people can quickly add up! If you can, try and come up with a budget per person and stick to it. You could also jot down some gift ideas that spring to mind for them and the approximate costs. That way, you'll have an idea of what you're buying for them, and you can keep an eye out on sales or events like Black Friday to see if the gifts are reduced in price.
3. Schedule a specific time for shopping
Getting out and about and physically shopping will be easier the earlier you can do it, and it’ll be busier the closer to Christmas it gets. Of course, this may seem obvious, but it's amazing how quickly autumn turns to winter, and before we know it, Christmas is right around the corner!
The best way to get organised in this way is to schedule a specific time in your diary for shopping – whether it's a weeknight, a weekend, or if you have a free weekday you can set aside.
When you've bought your presents, store them in a designated place – preferably somewhere the family won't be able to track down! But it's also best if they're out of direct sunlight and away from dust or cold weather (the garden shed or garage aren't ideal). Usually, a wardrobe, cupboard or loft would be best.
If you really embrace organisation and wrap your presents early, pop the recipient's name on a Post It note or a sticker so you don't forget who it's for. And there's never any harm in picking up a few spare presents, like chocolates (that won't spoil) or nice toiletries, just in case of any accidentally forgotten recipients who have unexpectedly turned up at your door with presents.
4. Be mindful of delivery and production times
If you're shopping online, starting early means you have the luxury of choosing the cheapest delivery option. The longer you leave it, and the closer Christmas looms, the more likely you'll have to splash out on expensive next-day delivery charges.
It's worth also bearing in mind that, depending on the gift, production times can vary. For example, at Hand on Heart, our process is so specialised (did you know it takes two years' training to become a handprint jewellery designer?), and our demand is so high that early ordering is essential. We have to stop taking orders sooner than we would like (typically early December) – that's why we always ask our customers to order as early as possible for Christmas.
5. Could you save money with DIY gifts?
There's a lot to be said for Christmas gifts made with love and care. If you're handy with DIY or crafts, you could not only save money, but you could also give a gift that shows you've spent time and energy by creating something special yourself. For example, photo collages or photo albums are an amazing way to relive special memories.
If you have a foodie in your life, what about making something they'll love? Like homemade jam or chutneys (perfect for the Christmas Day cheeseboard!) Or perhaps something sweet, like cookies, cakes or fudge. You can also buy kits online that will help make the process easier. For example, candle-making, or even a personalised snow globe or Christmas decoration that they can treasure forever.
However, a good point for this is to be mindful that DIY gifts will likely take much longer than shopping for presents, so keep a timescale in mind for how long the gifts will take to make!
6. Take advantage of sales and offers
Starting early means you have additional time to hunt down the best deals and offers, especially if you're buying any "big" presents. Black Friday can often be a good place to start when it comes to heavy discounts and bargains. Many retailers typically offer pre-Christmas sales and offers in advance of December. For example, our 20% off Christmas Gift Guide sale.
7. Keep an eye out for price guarantees
We understand it can be frustrating if you buy a gift early and then see it reduced in price later. At Hand on Heart, we never want our customers to feel disappointed or undervalued, which is why we're proud to offer customers our Christmas Price Guarantee.
If this happens when you shop with us between September and December 2021, simply add the products to your basket again (including delivery). Then, please send us a screenshot of the second page of the checkout while the promotion is running (you can only do this by proceeding to page two of the checkout to get the final cost). We will then happily refund the difference of the total amount paid.
It's worth being aware of price guarantees, as other retailers might do the same.
8. Be clever with finances
Sadly, many people head into January with credit card debt due to the expense of Christmas (this research explores this in a little more detail). However, this doesn't need to be the case, and you can kick off the New Year with your Christmas budget paid off and sorted. For example, by ordering presents early and spreading the cost over three months. We offer this as a company, using our payment plans, which we'll look at in a little more detail in our next tip.
9. Payment plans can be a big help
Our payment plans mean you can get organised early and enjoy the Christmas countdown without the stress of last-minute present shopping or the unpleasant surprise of unexpected payments.
Using Openpay, you can spread the cost of your order over three to four monthly instalments with no interest. Openpay can be used for purchases from £30 to £280, making it an ideal solution whether you're buying one gift or many.
Simply shop as you normally would and choose Openpay at the checkout. Then, create your Openpay account in a few simple steps – you'll need to be aged 18+ and a permanent UK resident, and you must have your first instalment, a valid email address, a UK mobile number and a debit or credit card in your name.
Once set up, you'll pay your first instalment on the same day, but you can spread the rest over equal monthly instalments (interest-free). You'll receive your order according to the delivery estimate, and the remaining payments will be taken automatically from your chosen card.
10. It's never too early to plan for next year!
If you want to get really organised, there are some incredible bargains to be found after Christmas, especially gift wrapping and Christmas cards – not to mention the January sales! Imagine already being completely prepared for the following Christmas by springtime? While this might not be the answer for everyone, we can't help but admire that level of organisation!
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, and it's even better when you can put your feet up and enjoy it. This is especially true if you feel safe in the knowledge that you've ticked off one of the most time-consuming – not to mention expensive and potentially stressful – parts of the Christmas countdown. We hope our top ten tips helped offer some ideas and inspiration to enjoy an organised and relaxing festive period!