Come August 1st, I invariably start thinking about Christmas. The older the kids get, the bigger the family grows and the total of our disposable income drops lower and lower, the more of a mammoth operation organising a Christmas becomes… therefore I feel zero shame when I skip out of a shop having bought something for my “Christmas Cupboard”.
And yesterday was no different when I wandered into Boots while out for a walk at lunch (dangerous I know!). In their clearance section I discovered something I had considered buying during their 2015 Christmas season. A set of six Nails Inc Christmas crackers (£25) was on my list last Christmas as a potential table favour, but in the end I abandoned the idea of table favours in place of some fancy finger food.
At the time, I worked out that with each Nails Inc polish having a value of roughly £9 in store, at £25 for the pack, this brought down the price of each polish to only £4… It was hard to walk away from. However yesterday in Boots, the same pack was down to £5… with each polish now costing only 83p!!
This is the second big win for my Christmas cupboard so far this year… the first came during the Disney Store sale where I got Iron Man and Captain America action figures down from £25 to £9 for A, and Good Dinosaur character toys at 70% off for F.
My Christmas Cupboard is the greatest saviour for Christmas, as not only can it stop us over spending, it means we can spend time thinking about gifts for people and try to make it as personal as possible. Otherwise we end up running out in December and spending big because we didn’t think enough… if you’ve ever gotten Galgorm vouchers from us, I apologise for it not being very thoughtful and also for hating you for getting a gift I want for myself 🙂
So my tips for shopping throughout the year
- Make Like Santa; Write a List and make it work for you – Excel or Google Sheets is your friend. There are columns in my sheet for Recipient, Budget, Gift Ideas and Gifts eventually purchased. I keep the “Gift Ideas” column separate and don’t delete it because there will always be someone calling me in a panic on Christmas week looking for ideas for someone in the family.
- Shop in Sales: If there’s a shop that someone on your list really rates, sign up to their newsletters to make sure you don’t miss the sale there. I have a friend who loves Cath Kidson but I could never dream of buying her a nice gift from there usually so last year, during their sale I picked up a fantastic bag and felt great giving her something so nice. This is difficult if you want to get someone clothes as seasonality means you will often have to pay full price, but for accessories and jewellery etc this approach really works.
- Avoid Trends: Last year was the first time we really experienced the horror of having spent a fortune on Thomas the Tank Engine presents for A, only for him to become a die hard Paw Patrol fan three weeks before Christmas with a toy list to match!! I cannot face that heartbreak again so the majority of my spending on A and F will be on generic toys like cars and art supplies and I’ll save around £30 for a “gift du jour” in December.
- Monitor Prices: If there’s something you’d love to buy for someone, bookmark it and check the price regularly. If your item is on Amazon, you can use sites such as Camel Camel Camel to track prices on items and you can set up price alerts for items so you get an email when the price of an item drops down into a range that you would be willing to pay – this is how I got my shiny Fitbit Charge HR for £40 less that RRP! Woo!
- Cash Back Card Spending: This one can start in January! In our house, all food and fuel spending is done on our American Express Platinum Cashback Credit Card which lets us accrue cashback on all spending throughout the year. Come December, we get the cashback as either a statement credit or we get the value of the credit +5% extra to spend at retailers such as Boots, Waterstones, House of Fraser or PC World. Adding to the great 3 for 2 deal Boots do from November, this will pay for quite a few presents.
- Savings Clubs: More of a warning than a tip – last year I saved a lot on my Asda Christmas Saver only to discover that you cannot spend your savings online! The horror on my face when I realised that this “Click & Collect Queen” would have to face the aisles in the years worst week! Cash into an envelope this year… I needed a lie down in a dark room last December.
Note these are only my tips for saving on gifts and not food, and this is solely down to the fact that our family are currently a bit scattered across the globe and we don’t yet know where Christmas dinner will actually be, so I have not even gotten into the mind-space for food. All it might take is a good deal on cranberry sauce though 🙂