When should I buy Christmas presents?

A variety of wrapped Christmas gifts on a wooden table, one held in someone’s hands.

Christmas can be a stressful time of year with town centres and shopping precincts full of hustling and bustling crowds trying to get their gifts before the shops run out. For that reason, many people like to get their Christmas shopping done and dusted before the rush – but how early is too early to buy your Christmas gifts?

When is the best time to start Christmas shopping?

When it comes to Christmas shopping, there is a fine balance to be struck. Leave it too late and you risk missing out on the perfect gifts for your loved ones, but shopping too early can often prevent you from making the most of last minute price reductions. Shopping closer to Christmas also allows you to pick up the more festive items on your list which aren’t usually in stock in the spring or summer.

As a result, we’d recommend that the best time to do the bulk of your Christmas shopping is between September and November in order to get the best of both worlds. Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy an ideal present when you see one during the rest of the year – after all, it pays to be prepared.

However, you might benefit from being even more proactive with your Christmas shopping. Taking advantage of various seasonal sales throughout the year could provide you with the majority of your presents at a lower price – even if it means starting your gift-hunt on Boxing Day.

When is the best time to start Christmas shopping?

According to a survey of present-buyers by Yesmail Interactive, 38% of people start their Christmas shopping before November, while almost 70% of people start their Christmas shopping before December. This means over 30% of people start their shopping in November, making it the most popular month of the year for starting to shop for Christmas.

Christmas shopping: top tips

Despite the fact that it can sometimes feel rushed and chaotic, doing your Christmas shopping doesn’t have to be a military operation. With the right tactics at your disposal, you can take the panic out of panic-buying and set yourself up for a more relaxed festive period. Plus, once the shopping’s out of the way, you can get down to the rest of the preparations for the big day.

Know who you are buying for

As any seasoned shopper will know, the best way to avoid coming home with bags full of knick knacks and toys you don’t really need is to know who you’re buying for. Like Santa himself, you should take the time to make a list and check it twice before you go shopping. There’s no need to stop at listing the people you’re buying for – why not make a list of gift ideas for each person so you can be more focused in your present search? You could even sort the list by shop, or split it into gifts for him and gifts for her to make your shopping experience easier.

Set budgets

Whether you plan to make a gift list or not, budgets can be a powerful tool to stop you from overspending while caught up in the festive spirit. Not only do they help you to plan what presents you’re going to buy who, but they also encourage you to consider what really matters to you at Christmastime.

Naturally, there are some people who have more of an impact on your life than others. Gifts for your grandchildren will likely be more expensive than those for your coworkers or neighbours, and you might simply plump for a token of appreciation like chocolates or sweets for a friendly face like your postie.

Start early

And by early, we mean early. Shopping in the Boxing Day and January sales can be a great way to snap up bargains that make for perfectly good Christmas presents later in the year. While some presents like toys, games and other entertainments may be a little more time-sensitive if you like to get the latest releases, things like toiletries, clothes and home decorations are great candidates for going in the present cupboard until they’re ready to be gifted.

Of course, starting early doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do all of your shopping early. Simply creating a plan early in the year can make it much easier for you to pick up the odd gift here and there. Spread the cost and hassle of Christmas shopping over the months. Making a budget early also means you can put aside a small amount of money each month to go towards your Christmas shopping.

Don’t leave shopping until the last minute

It’s easy to put off shopping because you don’t like it, or because you’re agonising over what to get for that special someone. However, leaving your Christmas shopping until the last minute only makes it more likely that you’ll miss out on getting a gift. Remember, the spirit of Christmas is about festivity and warm-feeling, not who got the best present. Perfect gifts don’t exist, only good ones – and often it really is the thought that counts.

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