Poppy Pickles is a mother of two and parenting blogger. In an effort to help you avoid that last minute dash to Oxford Street on Christmas Eve, she’s come up with a few handy hints and tips to get organised for Christmas.
I am a procrastinator. Always have been, always will be. As such, I have to work harder to keep myself on track and stay focused on the job in hand. And as November cracks on a pace and December starts to loom, the job that very quickly starts to get out of hand is Christmas shopping. Especially, if like me, you have children and a large family.
Every year I have very good intentions, and it doesn’t help that I’m surrounded by incredibly organised friends. It’ll get to the beginning of December and they’ll not only have bought all their presents, but wrapped them as well. However, I do think that’s taking it a bit too far…Christmas Eve wouldn’t be Christmas Eve in our house without staying up till 2am wrapping presents, while listening to carols and getting gently tipsy on sherry.
The children are also VERY helpful, as literally from the end of the summer holidays onwards, they say things like, ‘Oh it feels a bit Christmassy today’ or ‘I’m going to start making my Christmas list now’, while I tear my hair out quietly in a corner. But put off till tomorrow what you can do today and you’ll live to regret it when you’re dashing round the high street at the last minute with 1,000 other desperate people.
So, with this in mind, I’ve decided that THIS will be the year I finally get organised so that Christmas shopping can be an enjoyable part of the festive season. Here’s my list of things to do.
Make a List
“He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty or nice, Santa Claus is coming to town…”
Taking inspiration from that famous Christmas song, take a leaf out of Santa’s book and make a simple Christmas list of exactly who you’re buying presents for by the end of November.
Even if you then don’t buy anything till later on in the month, at least you will know how many presents you need to get. Rather than suddenly remembering that Auntie so and so always gets the children a little something, so you ought to get her a little something, only you don’t have it, so she gets a box of Ferrero Rocher from the back of the cupboard.
The other thing to add onto your original list is any birthdays that happen to crop up in the festive season. It’s bad enough having a birthday over Christmas and New Year, even worse if everyone then forgets to get you a present. Even better is to buy a roll of NON-Christmassy paper to wrap any birthday presents in to show that it wasn’t just a left-over present, but a definitely-birthday gift.
Get Your Thinking Cap On
Now that you’ve clarified who to buy for, you need to know what to buy. This is where it gets harder. Often the best ideas come when you’re doing something else, or when you’re in a shop with your kids and they point something out they want, but then you can’t buy it because they’re there. Be prepared for those moments by having a handy ‘Christmas Ideas’ list on your phone or in a notebook.
Also, don’t forget yourself! When those little ideas come up for things you’d quite like, make sure you add those to the list, so you can lend a guiding hand to your spouse, partner or family. They’re far more likely to be grateful than offended and you’ll then be able to look forward to a Christmas day of presents you actually want, rather than more body wash/socks.
Most of us do the vast percentage of our Christmas shopping online now.
Go through some of your favourite websites (such as the super-stylish Bear and Bear) and bookmark/pin the items that you think would be good presents for people. This takes time and it’s worth putting the browsing hours in ahead of time to save time when December hits and the frantic dash to get presents sorted starts. Plus, websites often have pre-Christmas sales, so if you’ve already got a few gifts chosen, you can see if you can nab a bargain.
Quality not Quantity
These days all of us have too much stuff! Most of us can’t afford to live in mansions with a west wing for storing stuff, and those of us with a global conscience are making an effort to consume less. If you leave your Christmas buying till the very last minute it makes it much more tempting to go for the same old tat that you end up buying every year. If you give yourself more time to consider the gifts you’re going to buy for people it will allow you to really get the present right.
Try to find presents that are both functional and attractive; As William Morris once said, ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.’
Go off List! The Spontaneous Purchase
Having gone into detail about how being organised, thinking about it in advance and planning your Christmas shopping will all help de-stress the Christmas shopping experience, I’m now going to go off-piste with this tip, which is: don’t rule out the spontaneous, in-the-moment Christmas purchase. So when you’re in a museum shop at the weekend and you spot a little kit your son would enjoy, buy it there and then and have a secret place away from prying eyes where you can stash them.
Quick Top Tips for Christmas SHOPPING
- Get the children to draw up a wish list and email it to friends and relatives in good time. Ask them to email you back once they’ve decided what they’re going to buy. Although make sure you keep back some present ideas for yourself!
- Decide between the grownups whether you’re going to go the traditional route and buy presents for all, or choose a budget to stick to, or go down the Secret Santa route, in which case you’ll need to get a third party to work it all out and email you in good time.
- Get the Christmas stuff down from the loft. There’s always a few things up there that you forgot about from last year. Check what wrapping paper you have left over BEFORE you go out and buy another 15 rolls.
- Finally, remember that Christmas isn’t all about presents. Make it a creative Christmas by making a Christmas pudding with the kids, constructing a gingerbread house, infusing the house with festive odours with homemade orange and clove pomanders, or by gathering greenery from the garden to create a Christmas wreath from a coat-hanger. Or sod that for a laugh and put your feet up instead!