There’s only 78 Sleeps to go which is just 3 pay days.
I now it’s only October but I’m going to start my ‘How to have a Frugal Christmas’ series now because if I wouldn’t be a good Frugal blogger if I didn’t tell you that you should have started shopping (or at least planning) by now. Christmas happens at the same time every year so there’s no excuse – it’s not like we don’t know it’s coming or anything.
The first of my ‘How to have a Frugal Christmas’ is all about presents – don’t panic though I’m not about to send you all out shopping or anything but I hope that I can help you plan what you need to buy and who for and then get a good idea where you can get a good deal from.
First you need to work out who you’re buying for, what your budget is and what you’re going to buy – easy peasy I know! The first part is common sense really -write out a list of everyone you have to buy for and put how much you want to spend on each person next to their names, add the amounts up and that’s your total Christmas shopping budget. Now it’s just a case of working out what you’re going to buy everyone which unfortunately isn’t as easy as the first bit.
I always start with the kids, because they’re what Christmas is all about aren’t they?
- Pick up a copy of the Argos catalogue for each of your children then sit them down with either a pair of scissors or a marker pen and let them choose the things they would like for Christmas. I let my two know that they won’t get everything on their list but it gives Santa a good idea of what they would like. I love to spoil the kids at Christmas but at the same time, I make sure that they know that Christmas is more about spending time with loved ones that getting presents and their hour with the Argos catalogue is the only time that it’s about the more commercial ‘we want presents’ side of things. We do write letters to Santa at the start of December but they’re more about how good the kids have been and the special things they’ve done through the year.
- Once you have the kids wish lists, work out what you’re going to buy them from their choices and write them down. If possible, set some money aside within your budget as there’ll probably be something new they desparately want or some fantastic bargain you’ll come across before Christmas comes along.
So now you know what you’re actually going to be buying the kids and how much your budget is for them, you need to find out where you’re going to get the best deal for each present – this is where you can save a fortune.
- I buy a lot of presents off ebay, which means that I have to start Christmas shopping early as the closer it gets to the big day, the more demand there is for the more popular toys which in turn drives the prices up. I wrote about buying presents using ebay last year and I was surprised by how many people did the same. Don’t forget to check out the bargains available in your local area by using this site, it searches for items in your local area where the seller will let you pick up the item rather than post it out. I always find bargains this way as there are less people bidding on them due to the fact that the seller won’t post them, last week I bought a Darth Vadar voice changer helmet in immaculate condition for 99p from someone in the next town!
- In the past I’ve saved a fortune using the Boots 3 for 2 offers. This probably isn’t for everyone but last year Miss Frugal wanted a doll that cost £35 (for a doll!!) and I managed to find it in the 3 for 2 offers at boots so I bought three and paid £70 for them all. I then sold two on e bay for £28 + P&P which meant that the buyers got a few pounds off a brand new doll and I made about £50 after fees. So the doll we kept ended up costing £20 rather than £35.00.
- I also check the Grabbit section on Moneysavingexpert.com on a daily basis during the run up to Christmas as there are some brilliant bargains to be had. I’ve managed to pick up some brilliant stocking fillers on here in the past.
- My two both want a Nintendo 3DS this year so I plan on trading in their DSI’s to get these cheaper – you can either trade them in directly at shops like Game or you can sell them on ebay which would probably get you a better price. I’m going to do this in mid November/early December and tell them that Santa needs to recycle them for other children or something along those lines.
Now for every one else:
- Again, I find the Grabbit section on Moneysavingexpert.com to be invaluable as I usually don’t have anything specific in mind for most of the other people that I buy for.
- I have a little box on top of the dresser in the dining room that I add to throughout the year with bargains I find or presents I receive but won’t really use. When I first write up my Christmas list, I have a look through and see what I can give to who.
- Hampers are great presents for people and they’re really easy to put together. I choose the theme of the hamper and buy bits and bobs to go in it as I see them. I made my friend last year a pamper hamper and bought something to go in it every week when I went shopping or when I saw a bargain. I bought a little wicker basket from Wilkos and filled it with things like facemasks, a scented candle, body butter, hair things, a mini bottle of wine and a pretty wine glass I found at the boot sale (it was new and in it’s box still). This year, I’m making our friends who’ve just had twins a night in hamper with a DVD, a bottle of wine, some popcorn and some chocolates to share in it and I’ll definitely be making a few others but I haven’t decided on the themes for them yet.
The key thing to remember when you find bargains is that something worth £10 is worth £10 regardless of what you managed to pay for it. So if you budget £10 for someone and manage to get a present worth £10 for less – don’t spend the extra making it up to £10. Christmas is expensive enough without spending more than you need to.
So go on, grab a notebook and start planning.
Apologies to those of you who have already got Christmas under control – feel free to move along with a smug smile 😉