How to Start Your Christmas Shopping Early

Early Christmas shopping saves all that last-minute rushing around. If you have a plan set you can be more effective, save money, and enjoy the Christmas season more.


Gift shopping

  1. Know who you are buying gifts for. Some people only shop for close family and friends. Other people put together Christmas presents for co-workers, the postal worker, the dog walker, hairdresser, plumber, poker buddies, kid’s teacher, and more. Decide on what you are comfortable with.
  2. Set a budget. Christmas presents should figure into your household or personal budget for the entire year, instead of just trying to find extra money somehow every November or December. You can always start by saving a small amount every month.

    Keep a general idea of how much you will spend on each person. For instance, you will likely spend more money on your immediate family than on a co-worker.

  3. Decide on what sort of gift matches each person on your list. What do they like? Movies, books, games? Have a rough idea of what presents would please the people on your list. brainstorm ideas. Write the ideas down on your list. Listen to the person or other people for ideas, and write them down too. Keep this list in an easy-to-carry form, like tucked away in your wallet or checkbook for quick reference.
  4. Start as early as the day following Christmas day. There’s no point in buying early if you’re going to buy for full price. Christmas shopping can start December 26th. Although you may feel the last thing you want to do is shop after the Christmas rush, stores often have incredible sales immediately after the holidays, and most items will be perfectly good gifts the next year.
    • Check out sales throughout the year, such as at the end of summer.
    • After-Christmas and Boxing Day sales are a good time to pick up wrapping paper and the like for the next year for a pittance.
  5. Put off procrastinating. Many people end up shopping last-minute because they put off the inevitable. Instead, make a plan with solid goals, dates, and timelines.
    • For instance, shopping will be done by December 20th. Put aside two evenings, twice a week for 2 weeks to accomplish this task. Leave some wiggle-room in case something comes up, but don’t keep making excuses. It can help to have someone who is good about shopping to keep you on track.
  6. Have a shopping plan. Maybe you’re not the type of person who likes shopping, or don’t have the time to browse for Christmas presents all year long. Instead, put aside one period of time, like a weekend or a special shopping trip.
  7. Keep track of presents. Don’t lose the present or forget who you bought it for.
    • Have a designated area for presents, such as a tote, section of closet, or attic. Be sure that the present won’t be ruined by variations of temperature, humidity, mold, mice, and so on.
    • Write the name of the designated gift-receiver on a removable sticker or piece of tape. That way you’ll remember who you bought it for. If you change your mind, it’s easy to re-designate. Cross their name off the list as soon as possible to avoid forgetting that you already bought them something.
  8. Hide the gifts well. Hiding is the hardest part of buying a gift early, but it’s perfectly possible. If you live with the person, hide it in your craft cupboard, toy box, the back of a wardrobe, etc. and leave it inside backpacks or other opaque bags. It’s best to choose somewhere the other person is not likely to look.


Food and drinks shopping

  1. Know what you’re having for the Christmas meal at least a month in advance. This will allow you to start buying the foodstuffs and drinks that are on sale and aren’t perishable. Write it all out on a list, then list the ingredients separately. From the ingredients list, highlight all the foods that can be bought early, such as canned foods, long life foods and dried foods. All of these can be bought well ahead of Christmas, perhaps in November.
    • Make storage space. Check the freezer, pantry and refrigerator for space that can be spared to contain all of the Christmas goodies you’re purchasing ahead of time.
  2. Start looking for liquor and soft drink sales at least one month ahead. Stock up well ahead of the rush. Dealing with drinks early is a great way to buy yourself more time when Christmas Day approaches––no long lines for you.
    • Store these out of the way in the basement, pantry floor or other area where they won’t be disturbed or subject to temperature extremes.
  3. Purchase the ingredients for the cake and pudding as soon as you see the ingredients go on sale in November.Many stores stock up additional amounts of dried fruits, flour, spices, etc. and put sales on early to get the stock moving. Since a cake and pudding are best made a month before Christmas to give them time to cure, start looking for the sales on the ingredients early November.
  4. Purchase the non-perishable food items from mid-November through to mid-December. Having these tucked away in the pantry, refrigerator or freezer in readiness for use will take a great weight off your mind. Non-perishables that can be bought ahead include:
    • Nuts and Nibbles
    • Chips, pretzels, and crackers
    • Canned foods
    • Frozen foods, including frozen desserts
    • Candies and candied fruits
    • Ice cream
    • Some root vegetables, pumpkins
    • Gingerbread and other spiced cookies
    • Commercially made Christmas cake, puddings, mince pies
    • Long-life milk, bread wraps, cookies, etc.
  5. Order food well ahead of time. Order meats, baked items, cakes, desserts, etc. from the relevant providers at the end of November into early December. Get an emailed or texted confirmation of your order and always call ahead a few days prior to pick-up date to check that the order has not been mislaid and is underway. Collect the day before Christmas or Christmas morning, as relevant. Although you still have to shop at Christmas-time, pre-ordering removes the stress of last-minute thinking and ensures that the provider of the goods has the resources and time to service your order.
    • Make things easier by having a family member do all the pick-ups. Provide them with a list and locations for pickups, then send them on their way.
  6. Buy perishable supermarket foods two days before Christmas. This avoids the pre-Christmas day rush that is usually full of all the people who forgot to be organized. If there is anything that must be bought fresh the day before or on the day, add that to the pre-orders––even many supermarkets will take pre-orders for things such as meats and baked goods.
    • Store everything in one part of the refrigerator or use a second one if you have another.

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Written by Abby Jones

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