I love choosing gifts for my friends and family, but it’s a time-consuming and expensive task – which is why I always recommend buying Christmas presents throughout the year.
In fact, shopping early is one of the changes I’ve made to my own Christmas organising that has had the most positive impact on my enjoyment of the festive period.
Instead of battling my way up and down the crowded high street and scouring the internet for present ideas, I actually have the time and money for the Christmas social activities I really enjoy.
By shopping in a more relaxed way, I’m also far less tempted to make impulse purchases and overspend.
If you fancy giving it a go, here are my top tips for buying Christmas presents throughout the year!
Work out an accurate budget
A big advantage of buying gifts months in advance is that it removes the need to spend a lot of money all at once.
I recommend that, if you see the perfect present for someone, buy it straight away – if you leave it until later, you might forget or be unable to find it again. It’s also the point of trying to buy your Christmas presents throughout the year!
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that, when you’re buying gifts over a period of many months, it can be very easy to lose track of your total spend and end up paying more than you usually would.
So it’s well-worth working out how much you can afford for each person and making a note of what you’ve actually spent.
Remember to budget not only for the presents themselves, but also the cost of delivery, wrapping and sending it to the recipient, if required.
I know money’s tight for most people at the moment – if you think you’ll struggle to pay for Christmas this year, look out for my blog post later in the month which will give you plenty of ideas for making some extra money in time for Christmas.
Create a gift tracker
As well as tracking your spending, it can be really helpful to have a list of who you’re buying for and keep it up-to-date as you go along.
I include ideas for thoughtful gifts, what I’ve already bought, and how much it cost.
Keeping hold of my gift tracker from previous years is also super helpful as a reminder of what I’ve already gifted – both for ideas and to ensure I don’t give repeats!
You can use an app or create a spreadsheet tracker – or if you prefer to use a pen and paper, the Christmas Organised printable planner includes beautiful ready-made gift tracker sheets and budget planning resources.
I also find it helpful to record where I’ve stored each gift, especially for presents I’ve bought for people in my household that need to be particularly well hidden away.
If you usually ask people for ideas for what they’d like in December, it can help to encourage them to add items to a wish list all year round. Let them know it’ll increase the chances of them receiving something they really want and help cut down on duplicates!
Consider return dates
One thing to bear in mind when buying gifts a long way in advance is that, by the time Christmas comes around, the time in which you or your recipient can return them for a refund or exchange may have expired.
So if you’re buying clothing, for example, make extra sure the person you’re buying for will like it and that it will fit.
It’s also worth keeping a close eye on best before and use by dates if you’re buying foodie gifts months before Christmas!
Set up tech and build toys
Related to my expiring return dates tip, it can be a good idea to test new tech is working and build toys (and other ‘flat-packed’ items) before wrapping them to ensure there’s no damage or missing bits.
It’s also another massive timesaver in December – and on Christmas Day!
Wrap presents straight away
Wrapping gifts is one of the aspects of Christmas I still feel I run out of time for, so this year I’m aiming to wrap them up as I buy them.
I find it’s a lot less overwhelming to wrap one or two presents at a time, then store them away until I need them rather than wait until I have to wrap them all in one go.
I hope this will mean I’ll also do a better job of it, and I’ll have the time and energy to make each gift look really special. It’ll also make it easier to conceal what they are from prying eyes!
If you’ve run out of wrapping paper at a time of year when it’s not in the shops, I use eco-friendly brown paper and decorate it with ribbon and dried fruit for an extra personal touch.
Don’t forget to deliver presents in good time
If you’ve bought all your Christmas gifts and wrapped them months or weeks in advance, it can be easy for time to fly by and miss last posting dates – or opportunities to deliver gifts in person.
Check and write in your diary and/or Christmas planner when last posting dates are for first and second class post – and for all the countries you need to send mail to – and ensure you send everything a week or so before this to be extra sure it arrives on time.
Another advantage of buying gifts super early is that, if you’re meeting up with people who live further away from you throughout the year, you can deliver their Christmas gifts when you see them, saving lots of time, hassle and money.
I hope my tips are helpful and that I’ve inspired you to start your Christmas shopping early this year!
Let me know if you have any advice of your own and I’ll share it with the Christmas Organised community.