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On Foot or Online - Stressing or Chilling - You Decide. How to Avoid Seasonal Shopping Strain...

Aug 27, 2008
Christmas is supposed to be a time of celebration, relaxing and spending time with the family. But often the 'season to be jolly' can descend into a chaotic rush of parties, shopping and buying expensive Christmas Gifts, all of which can be hugely stressful.

So how do you avoid the strain of Christmas Gifts and put your mind (and your bank manager) at ease?

One of the easiest ways in which to stay calm about Christmas Gifts is to plan ahead. This is not to suggest that anyone stockpiles mince pies in August, or that you should dust off that Christmas CD in the middle of March. However, it is easy to pick up small Christmas Gifts throughout the year, without spoiling the festive spirit when it arrives in December. Some websites now sell Christmas Gifts and decorations all year round, with thematically organised sections and categories to find exactly what you're looking for, from toast stamps to Mr & Mrs pillowcases. Shopping for your Christmas Gifts early not only spreads the cost but also means that you can pick up some real bargains outside of the festive season.

Whether on the high street or on the web, keep an eye out for sales. These now occur throughout the seasons as online retailers rise to the challenge of hot competition compounded by the current UK economic climate. As long as you have sufficient storage space for your bargains and you think carefully about your purchases (who really wants flip flops or sunglasses for Christmas Gifts?) then the savings you can pocket could provide a veritable Christmas feast. It is advisable to avoid transient fashion items, as trends change so quickly. If you opt for Christmas Gifts in the form of cosmetics or food, do check with regard to sell by and use by dates. Many people (particularly men) are somewhat bemused by the concept of dates and cosmetics! Follow these simple guidelines and you will find that shopping early online means that you have a huge choice and can easily compare prices at the click of a mouse, thus ensuring that you get the best deal on many of your Christmas Gifts.

If you do buy Christmas Gifts early, keep a list. This makes it much easier to see for whom you have already bought and means that you don't end up buying five Christmas Gifts for Aunty Joan and none for Uncle John. It is also a good idea to keep a note of things that people mention throughout the year. That way, when it comes to buying your Christmas Gifts, they're far more likely to end up with a present they'll actually appreciate and you will save all that heartache deliberating over which comedy gimmick mug to buy. An easy way to do this is to invest in a Christmas planner. This means you can record all your recipes, notes, Christmas Gifts lists, Christmas card lists and store your Christmas gift receipts in one place.

Many people struggle with the cost of Christmas Gifts so in order to minimise strain on the plastic it is best to stick to a strict budget. Remember to include extras such as delivery charges. Christmas cards and wrapping paper costs can soon mount up so factor these in. In truth, much as it is the thought that counts, most of your nearest and dearest would rather you spent your hard earned cash on the Christmas gift itself than on wallpaper quality wrapping and bows that wouldn't disgrace a royal bridesmaid's dress.

Some friends and workplaces even operate a 'Secret Santa' scheme for their Christmas Gifts. Instead of buying presents for everyone, a group of people draw a name out of a hat and buy a gift for that person, up to a pre-agreed limit. This collective approach can be a good method of saving the pennies and further reducing seasonal financial strain. It can also be fun trying to choose an appropriate present for someone that you may not know particularly well. Romance has begun this way.

For a personal touch, home-made Christmas items, particularly a few cards or crackers are often more individual than commercial ones and their creation may even keep the kids entertained for a few hours. It's easy to find online ideas or 'Create Your Own' sets, which come with all the materials, stencils and ideas you will need if you're not predisposed to creativity. If you are shopping for children it might also be useful to get a 'Christmas letter to Santa kit'. Although Father Christmas might have trouble squeezing the pony at the top of the list down the chimney, he may well pick up a few extra ideas for his Christmas Gifts.

However you buy your Christmas Gifts this year, remember to relax and unwind. Sharing a drink with friends, cooking Christmas biscuits with the children, or just phoning an old relative to catch up. Make sure you do something to escape from shopping for Christmas Gifts. It's an old clichut Christmas should remain a time for good food, fantastic company and shared memories and no amount of panic-bought stocking fillers should ever be allowed to change that.
About the Author
To explore our range of christmas gifts further, please visit our website at http://www.gettingpersonal.co.uk.
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