Starting your Christmas shopping early

I can already hear you cynics groaning as you see this article title, the distant flick as you thumb past this page. I’m aware that some of you detest people like me who, in September, have already got a secret bag in the wardrobe full of future gifts.

But, without disrespect, I would like to firstly make you all very aware that we are a different creature to those who listen to Christmas music over summer. We too do not appreciate the stockings and reindeer pictures that peek out from behind pumpkins in October supermarkets. The point is not to extend Christmas beyond natural life length, it’s to be smart.

The bottom line is that Christmas is expensive. We often don’t have enough to even get a decent gift, never mind spoil someone we wish we could. If it’s possible to cut corners early on, why not? I stand by it myself. It may not suit unorganized folk, but anyone who can make a to-do list and manage to tick half of it off, can tackle early shopping.

I tend to start every year around the time when we return to college. Just as the evenings start to get darker, signifying a different time of year, I turn my attention to town and keep an eye on the shops. When a sale pops up, don’t hesitate. Grab a few things and put them away for later on. Even regular prices will be cheaper, before everything either goes up due to insane demand, or becomes part of a ridiculously expensive gift set that’s main cost is its packaging.

The main thing to be successful in early Christmas endeavours is to make sure to keep track of what you’re actually buying, and who for. It would kind of defeat the purpose to end up with two twenty euro gifts for one person when you would normally spend thirty last-minute.

There’s a lot of places to check in with. TK Max gets designer shipments constantly and sells them at a severely discounted price. These understandably get swept up in middle to late December, but there’s plenty to nab before that. There’s different stock in there every week, so go have a look whenever you can and pick up a bargain.

Boots is another place to keep watch of. Their three for two and buy one get one half price offers are always placed on different brands. Starting early means more time, which means more products for the offers to be switched between. Wait until they land on the ones you want and pick them up!

Another benefit of shopping early is that as well as getting better gifts for cheaper prices is that you beat the hustle and bustle of Christmas Eve. Rather than forcing your way through shops that are jam-packed and squelching with bodies, you can glide through with ease. That extra time can be spent with friends and family, which is what we’d all rather be doing anyway.

If shops really aren’t your thing, and you avoid them until the last minute possible, thereby ending up in the Christmas Eve shopping rut, there’s other options. Online is the way forward.

Websites like Boohoo and ASOS are ideal for buying clothes, particularly if you subscribe to them and receive constant discounts (they go into a special promotions folder if you’re on Gmail, and dislike anything nearing spam). Both have free Irish returns so don’t worry too much about things not looking great in person, your eye gets better over time at predicting anyway.

If you have a bookworm you need to please, Easons and are both great. Easons has a great website layout where you can search any title you want with the click of a button, while Kennys have amazing prices. Delivery in Ireland for all websites mentioned above is either free in general, or else once you pass a spending limit which you’ll likely do when bulk buying your presents. That means saving on car petrol/bus money!

It isn’t too late to get started now. I may be an extreme early-bird, but early this month still gives you plenty of time to get ahead. Happy shopping troopers.

-By Orla Carty

Image: Julie Anne Johnson on Flickr

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