Spending Less On Christmas Presents

christmas-tree-and-presents image source

Hello. It’s me again. The non-fiction one with the weekly money-saving column.

As far as possible, buy Christmas presents from shops that give reward cards, loyalty discount vouchers, and two-for-one offers etc. You will get a lot more for your money because this is the only time of year you’ll have the need to buy several presents all at once.

I try to figure out ways to shop wiser every Christmas. For the last four years I’ve been buying presents mainly from my supermarket, mail-order catalogues, and a UK chemist/gift shop called Boots. Here’s why.

 To each their own list

First I allocate how much I’m going to spend on each person. I start shopping at the end of October and decide what proportion of presents I’ll buy from the various outlets I’ve mentioned above. I give my kids a free catalogue I pick up every year from a national toy shop, and ask them to make a list of 10 items each – based on the hundreds of toys in the catalogue – of things they would like for Christmas.  I take this list to my supermarket (during my weekly grocery shopping) and purchase the items there, where they cost much less than they do at the toy shops. The kids understand that while they won’t get everything on the list, its existence ensures that they will get two things they really want. Thus, the element of surprise is still preserved. This of course is separate from the stockings full of random, surprise goodies Santa leaves under the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve night.

Make sure you keep all receipts and a tight check on what you’re spending.

Supermarket bargains

Supermarkets are the perfect outlets from which to buy presents for your kids and younger members of your family. They stock similar (if not exactly the same) items as popular gift shops, but sell them for half the price. If you don’t want your recipients to know where the gift has come from, purchase items whose shop labels you can easily remove; use the plain variety of stylish wrapping paper; and spend extra time wrapping your presents with generous wrapping ribbons and bows. These you can purchase at half price after Christmas to use for the following year’s festivities. Fine wrapping paper will give any present a lift.

Mail-order catalogue shopping

Mail-order catalogue companies try to attract new customers at the start of the autumn every year, by offering a free gift (usually with free delivery) with every order from new customers. Take advantage of this. Make an order, get your free stuff which is essentially a two-for-one deal, pay off your balance, and forget about them. If you ignore their subsequent catalogues for the rest of the year, they will stop sending them soon enough. If they don’t get the drift, cancel your account with them and move onto another company next Christmas. You’re doing nothing wrong. You’re taking advantage of a bargain and paying for your purchases like every good citizen should. This year I got a fabulous (expensive) coat for free with a single purchase from a mail-order catalogue. There’s another Christmas present I didn’t have to pay for!

Two-for-one deals and loyalty card offers

I saved £62.00 last week end when I made my final Christmas presents purchases. These were made at the chemist/gift shop where they sell three items for the price of two. I’ve done the bulk of my serious Christmas shopping here every year, ever since I discovered their magnificent offers.

Customers get the cheapest item free, for every three items you buy. However, to make this work in your favour, you have to make sure you’re buying three items as three separate purchases, and not twelve all in one go. Separating the purchases means that you get more expensive things for free, as opposed to all the cheap, leftovers at the end. I bought my mother-in-law two items for £15.00 each and got a free gift for my sister worth £13.00. After I paid for these, I put them aside on the counter and presented my second basket. This purchase included two items for my father-in-law, one worth £22 and another £20. I got a third item worth £20.00 for my husband for free.

As I was parked right outside, I put these in the car and went back yet another time. My sister’s, daughter’s and father-in-law’s birthdays are a few days either side of Christmas so I find it convenient to shop for these at the same time. After buying two gifts worth £23.00, and £22.00 each, I was able to secure another lovely free gift worth £18.00. As if this wasn’t enough. The points on my loyalty card rocketed because 500 free points were on offer if you spent more than £30.00 in one transaction. Added all in, I had a total of £11.00 to spend on anything I wanted in the store. I got a present for my husband and another for my daughter’s birthday gift.

Together, buying presents from catalogues that give you free gifts for shopping, shopping at the supermarket where items are cheap, and buying from shops that offer you savings on what you spend save you a whole lot of money on your Christmas shopping. Think of all the food you could get with the cash you saved!

If you wanted to save even more, why don’t you buy next year’s Christmas presents this year in the New Year’s Day sale? I didn’t have a chance to do that last year because of illness, but this is a perfect way to get expensive presents for less than half their asking price. As long as you stay away from fashion and music, (and not use your credit card) you’ll be singing your way to the bank next Christmas. But this is another article….

For UK readers: a major wine company has just gone into administration. This is the perfect time to shop for a case of wine (half price) then distribute individual bottles as Christmas presents.

For those sending packages and cards to the UK; we’ve had a lengthy postal strike and the undelivered mail is piled up way high.  It’s time to send yours now if you want them delivered for Christmas.

Find my newest blog A Blogger’s Books for more free tips and money-saving advice. These tips come from my book, ‘How to Spend Less.’ More details of how to buy it on my blog.

~ by yearzerowriters on November 10, 2009.

10 Responses to “Spending Less On Christmas Presents”

  1. Anne, buying for next year now is an absolute key – especially with seasonal items like crackers and decorations that don’t perish but simply need to be gone from the shops.
    Dan

  2. Exactly, Dan. It’s a shame that more people don’t do this. I see so many really good stuff being sold at half price after Christmas. We’d all save so much if we did the shopping then.

    Thanks for your support. It means a lot to me.

  3. Thanks for this. Christmas makes me stress out every year.

    • The earlier you start preparing, the less stressful it becomes. Get family members to help and assign tasks to everyone. Don’t take it all upon yourself.

      Thanks for the feedback, Marcella.

  4. Excellent advice, Anne. I love 3 for 2’s. We went to a supermarket here the other day and bought 21 bottles of 7 different wines, and only paid for 14 of them!
    Simon

    • Yes, Simon. 3 for 2s are fab. What better time to make use of them than now? Getting another christmas present you don’t have to spend money on can only be a good thing.
      Anne LG

  5. Ths is so useful — thank you Anne!

  6. … or you can be really drastic like us. Leave your home country to live on a fairly obscure island where the Xmas/New Year is more of a family/religious thing and don’t buy any presents at all LOL

    Send e-cards to people and make presents for the people you see as real friends. Last year I made lemon marmalade and xmas puddings as pressies. The lemons were free from the trees of the people I made the marmalade for – but they still appreciated the time I put into it.

    Even our teenage son is cool about not having a materialistic swap fest any more. Our last two Xmases have been wonderful – the most laid back & magical I can remember. Our treats are things like snuggling up late at night with hot chocolate to watch Polar Express or the old 1964 Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer animation from Rankin/Bass.

    Here’s an e-card from me to all involved with the Year Zero Group – hope you enjoy it.
    http://www.jacquielawson.com/viewcard.asp?code=2044205085633&source=jl999

  7. Very well said. I agree totally. For us poor souls over here, we’ve got to try to harden the blow somehow. One day, Michele, that’ll be us!:-)
    Anne

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