No stress guide to last-minute Christmas shopping

Save yourself time, money and stress! 

We’re into December, the clock is ticking and your Christmas shopping still isn’t done. You’re busy, on a tight budget and you’ve got at least one relative who’s just impossible to buy for.

You definitely don’t want to be running round Cabot Circus like a headless chicken at 5pm on Christmas Eve, bagging whatever items you can find and potentially blowing your budget.

So, how are you going to get this sorted? Here’s some inspiration and an action plan to help you find great presents at the right price - and all in time for Christmas.

Step one:

Set your budget You’re probably anxious to get stuck into shopping ASAP - there’s no time to lose, right? But before you do anything else, you must set yourself a budget. Work out the total amount you can afford to spend on Christmas presents. Be realistic, and don’t forget to leave money over for festive costs like food and socialising. Being clear on your budget before you decide what to buy means you can not only enjoy a happy Christmas, but avoid the stress of starting 2020 with a huge ‘debt hangover’.

Step two:

Make a list of everyone you’re buying for There are some people who are very likely to be on your to-buy-for list (close family), others you may want on the list (e.g. best friend) and others you can leave off. Don’t feel you have to buy for everyone. A simple homemade gift (see below) or even just a card can mean more to people than shop-bought presents, especially if you add a special note to let that person know how important they are to you.

Step three:

Work out how much you can spend on each person For each person on your list, set a maximum amount you can spend. Double-check that when you add it all up you’re within budget.

Step four:

Plan what you’re going to buy each person Having a plan in place for your Christmas presents before you shop is not just a great time-saver, but it makes it easier to keep your spending under control too. Buying spontaneously means you’re more likely to overspend on whatever takes your fancy. To avoid this, brainstorm gift ideas and then check the prices online to make sure they fit your budget. (If you’re stuck for ideas, see our inspiration below.)

Step five:

Do your shopping! With your budget and plan in place you’re sure to whizz around the shops (or the retailers’ websites) in no time. And best of all, you’ll come away with brilliant presents and a happy wallet.

Online vs the shops - what’s best for last-minute?

These days more and more people are choosing to do their Christmas shopping online. It’s usually quicker and easier to find what you’re looking for, and you don’t have to fight through the crowds. However, if you do shop online, don’t forget to:

  • Keep an eye on delivery costs - these can add up, especially if you’re buying from different sites. To avoid them, see if there’s a free ‘Click and Collect’ service. If not, you might save money by doing your shopping in store.
  • Make sure you’ll get guaranteed delivery before Christmas. Most websites will make it clear what the last ordering day is. If you’ve missed it, a shopping trip is probably your best bet.

If all else fails - give a Christmas IOU!

It’s Christmas Eve and your online order still hasn’t arrived, or the gift you set your heart on has sold out of the shops. What now? Don’t despair! It’s time to write a Christmas IOU certificate, like this one, to tell your family member or friend that their special gift is on its way.

Tip: Wrap your IOU up in a box with a few little treats (e.g. chocolate coins) so that whoever is receiving it still has something to enjoy opening on Christmas Day.

Published by
Team BCU
Posted on
17 December 2019