If, like me, you find yourself getting too hot, too tired and decidedly cranky with kids in tow, here are eight ways you can mitigate the damage before you either blow your top or end up spending far too much money because you just want to go home!
Decide how much you are going to spend on presents
This is THE most difficult aspect of all but you really need to be clear about your budget and how much you can afford to spend on each present. It's so easy to feel pressured into spending too much but we all know that after the kids have the thrill of ripping the wrapping paper off, so many toys languish ignored after a day or so.
Make a list of what you're going to buy.
An oldie but a goodie. Make a list of what you're planning to buy for everyone and stick to it. The list should include stocking fillers as well as main presents. It is amazing how bits and pieces such as novelty chocolates and tiny games can add up.
Research prices online before you go.
For bigger ticket items, it makes sense to at least have an idea of what the big retailers are offering and most of them will price-match (John Lewis, for example).
If you're shopping for gadgets, make sure you are comparing the like for like technical specification and check what extras are included.
You might also want to check any consumer reviews you can find in magazines like Which? or on Amazon. Whilst you need to be able to read between the lines when looking at reviews, generally you will get a sense of whether a product is OK or a complete dud not worth your precious cash.
Check sites like Topcashback, Quidco, and Vouchercloud to see whether there are better online deals for your gifts. Sites like these also have mobile apps you can use to check prices and earn cashback on the go.
There are numerous other price-checking apps for your smartphone that you can use in store such as Red Laser or Price Grabber.
Plan Your Route
Once you know what you want to buy and where the best deals are likely to be, it's easier to plan your route. Make allowances for the day and time you go shopping. If you hate crowds, first thing on a Sunday morning will be a nicer experience than mid afternoon on a Saturday!
I like to wear warm, casual clothes in layers with a stylish but comfy pair of boots that I can walk for miles in. You can find a great selection at Esprit.
|Wear stylish boots you can walk miles in|
If you've got kids, make sure they don't get overheated in all in one bodysuits and that their clothing is easily removable for dashes to the toilet!
Plan A Break
Particularly if you have kids, you'll need to schedule a toilet / drink break. We like John Lewis as there is a good choice of food and snacks for kids, plenty of room, clean toilets and a welcoming environment for families. Trying to cram into a tiny coffee bar with a pushchair and umbrellas is never a nice experience!
Make sure you have some bottled water and some healthy snacks (mini boxes of raisins or bananas) to stave off hunger pains. If you're on a diet, a little snack pot with some fruit and nuts and perhaps a few cubes of cheese may help you avoid an enormous slice of fudge cake and a calorie laden festive coffee.
Why not start a folder specially for Christmas present receipts? Just pop them straight in when you get home and you'll know when to find them should anything need to be taken back after Christmas.
Do It All Online Instead!
If you can't face the crowds, online shopping is the answer. Just make sure that you take into account any delivery charges, last order dates and returns policies. Not all online retailers offer to cover the postage costs of returning item. If you're ordering a perishable gift, such as a cream tea hamper,make sure the recipient will be in to receive it.
It also helps to sort out a safe place for delivery as there is nothing more annoying than coming home to a missed delivery card.
With a bit of planning before your shopping trip you can minimise the stress and hopefully save yourself some cash into the bargain.
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