Christmas is upon us, folks.
I'm really sorry to bring it to those of you who would like considerably more time between now and the 25th December, but it really isn't very far away. There is still time before the panic stages though, so fear not.
Also - who are you? I am listening to Christmas songs while eating a minced pie, so you're wrong.
If you'd like save money, be less stressed in the week running up to Christmas, and also start thinking about where your money is going, I hope that this list is helpful for you. I decided earlier this year that I just didn't want to give any more of my money than absolutely necessary to huge corporate business - even ones that I previously loved. There are so many other options, especially in terms of buying gifts at this time of the year, but please let me know if there are more which I haven't covered!
1 - Plan
Most of the reason why I and those close to me spend more than we should or would like to at Christmas time is because I/we haven't planned well enough. Things get bought in the week before Christmas, and extra money is spent in place of buying the perfect thing. While many people will mock you for thinking about Christmas any earlier than December, it really does pay to plan before starting to purchase anything. You can see Martin Lewis' Black Friday Deals and Christmas Deals Predictors and they should help you to save money on things you would have bought anyway. A page of a notebook or a quick spreadsheet should be enough - I start mine as soon as I think of anything to buy someone for Christmas, and add to it as and when I think of things or people mention things.
2 - Shop on Etsy
Etsy can be very expensive, there's no getting away from it. Most people on Etsy, though, don't have anywhere near the profit margin of anywhere you could go on the high street. You will always be supporting a small business = brownie points for you, and you know you are getting quality products, which are often hand made. They are also far more unique than anything on the high street, and many people sell personalised gifts which are a brilliant idea for just about anyone and really show that you have put thought into the gift. Don't delay though, as small business often have longer delivery times than larger ones.
3 - Give experiences rather than things.
There's a post over on Upper Circle about how to buy people the gift of Theatre without spending a huge amount of money - but you can really give so many experiences rather than buying things. Spending time with people is often so much more valuable, especially if you need to give a gift to someone who you don't often spend much time with and would like to, or who you know likes a good meal out or would enjoy something like an alcohol tasting tour. Groupon have lots of 'Things To Do', including meals out, in all cities, which are especially reduced and really great for gifts.
4 - Don't give people the burden of responsibility.
Martin Lewis (who I happen to love - if you hadn't noticed) has a very strong view on this - and it's one that I share in some capacity. While saying 'but I like giving gifts' is great, it's also really very stressful to have to think about who might buy you a Christmas present and who you might therefore need to buy for. I have come to the realisation that I love spending time with people more than I love buying things for people and have applied the same principle to Christmas Cards - which I'm keeping to an absolute minimum from now on. Buying things for people without expecting anything back would be absolutely fine, if that didn't often mean that those people felt guilty or sub standard because they hadn't bought anything in return - or worse, rush out to the shops to buy something to quickly wrap for you. Making agreements not to buy anything, but to go out for dinner or a drink instead, is often a great relief to both parties.
5 - Buy Gift Vouchers on Zeek
I love Zeek because it feels like not only are you saving money, you're also giving someone else a little bit more in their pocket. They sell gift vouchers at less than face value - and you can get them online or physical vouchers (always check, but they do specify clearly). I've been known to stand in the Debenhams Queue and buy two of these vouchers, each with 10% off, when I was buying a perfume which I knew was right (remember if you want to return something and you've paid for it with gift vouchers, you'll get gift vouchers back). Obviously you don't instantly have a voucher in your hand, but you have the code and pin, which in many shops is all you need - they can just key it in.
6 - Ebay
I've bought two of my good friends things from eBay this Christmas. Some people are scared of eBay, and I get that, but I've sold and bought a lot of things on there and never had a problem. The things I've bought as gifts are in really good condition, hardly used and yet I've bought them for half of their retail price - things which I just wouldn't have been in the market to buy otherwise. Personally I prefer buying from individuals - even individuals who have sold a lot of things - than shops, as if shops are selling electrical goods for example, you don't ever really know where they have come from. If you think 'buying people second hand things is skanky' (wow, haven't used that for a while) - I'd encourage you to think about two things: Firstly, the fact that second hand is often in really amazing condition. Secondly, is buying something that you know someone will love really without spending too much or putting money into fast fashion or huge corporate businesses really that bad - especially when it means you can buy something that you wouldn't otherwise have been able to afford?
7 - Depop
As above - but pretty much all from individual sellers rather than anyone trying to make a business deal out of it. Find hardly used makeup pallets for half the price of the shops, electrical items, and of course - a lot of clothes.
8 - Upcycle
I can't actually give you my favourite example of this because you can't tell people what you're giving them for their birthday or Christmas, by posting it on your blog, you know? We all have things we don't use - even though I've moved house twice in the last 18 months and really hate having extra stuff, I've still got things that would be far better to be given to someone else than sitting on my shelf. I am the least artistic or crafty person but I am making things which I know will be loved by both family members and friends this year, the base of which is made from things I already owned. Vague I know, but see what you can apply it to!
How do you have a more sustainable and less expensive Christmas? Let me know.