Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Getting Ready for Christmas - Part 1 - Presents


Yes I know, it is pretty early to be talking about Christmas, and I'm not going to harp on about it for the next three months, don't worry.   But with less than 100 days to go, this series of  3 posts over the next few weeks is a gentle reminder of what is coming and is just to prompt me into action and share ideas on how I prepare for Christmas and the festive season.

For me, Christmas is all about the lead up.  I enjoy buying presents for people, wrapping them, decorating the tree, going to Christmas Fairs and events.  It all adds to the enjoyment of the festive season.  I don't enjoy tramping round the shops in a last minute rush, fretting over what to buy everyone, so as a consequence I try to get most of my shopping done well before.  By Christmas Day itself, I'm happy to enjoy a simple and unpretentious Christmas meal and spend time with family members.  I'm not particularly a party animal, so a quiet family Christmas is just great by me.

We're not particularly extravagant at Christmas, but we do like to celebrate the festive season and exchange gifts, mainly for the children in the family, but for some of the adults too.  As a consequence it can work out quite expensive and I try to spread the cost throughout the year, rather than face buying everything in the two months preceding and racking up my credit card balance.  I have done this in the past and don't recommend it to others if you can avoid it, as it can mean paying off Christmas credit card purchases throughout the year and obviously paying interest on the money owed, making presents even more expensive.

This year, I have tried to spread the cost by buying some presents, cards, wrapping paper, etc. in January during the sales and throughout the rest of the year.  I do this by utilising online sales and any good offers I see when out and about shopping.  So far this year I have managed to purchase all Christmas cards needed including individual ones for close family members, wrapping paper, and quite a few small gifts for some of the children and adults we buy for.  Many were bought in the January sales when they were heavily discounted or there were 2 for 1 offers on some of the gift sets left over from Christmas.  None are things that will go off or out of date/fashion, so should be perfectly good to give this Christmas.  By doing this I can often afford to buy everyone better quality gifts rather than buying less with my budget by paying full price nearer the time, when they are sold at a premium specifically for the Christmas market.

This year, I have also managed to buy quite a few stocking fillers for Little Bird too.  As she is an only child, I guess she might seem to get a lot at Christmas, as she has no siblings that need to be bought for, but the main reason she seems to get a lot is that I manage to buy things at good prices and so she actually does get quite a bit for the money I spend.  I tend to set a budget for smallish gifts such as books, cd's, makeup, jewellery, clothes and other small gifts that I think she might like.  Her main present comes from Santa of course and will usually be worth a similar amount.

As Little Bird's birthday is not long after Christmas, I tend to buy gifts with both events in mind and then divide the things I have bought up, some for Christmas, some for her birthday.  This works quite well as few people, me especially, have much money in January and thinking ahead like this saves expense and stress.  I also often buy things for her birthday party ahead of the time if I see anything suitable and then store them away until the date itself even though I'm not actually sure what we are doing for her party.  They usually come in useful at some point.  Fortunately, Little Bird is pretty easy to please and is usually happy with any gifts she receives. 

OH and I do buy presents for each other, and again we tend to stick to a fixed budget, which we spend on smallish items that are mostly practical and useful.  No novelty gifts.  This may sound a bit like pointless extravagance to some, but we do enjoy opening gifts on the day and why not.  We do find that if we stick to what we know the other will like or has specifically asked for, then things do not languish unused in the back of the cupboard.  We tend to buy one another things like books, cds, dvds, inexpensive jewellery (for me), perfume, toiletries, chocolates, alcohol, good coffee (for OH), etc.  Quite predictable and ordinary things really that we each like, but don't always get around to buying for ourselves for whatever reason.  To be honest, both our needs and wants are quite simple, but we do like to throw the odd surprise into the mix sometimes.  Everyone likes small surprises don't they?  Talking of which, I have just managed to pre-order something for OH that I have been trying to get for him for a few years now, which is a great result.  I just hope it turns up now.  As for me, I am just as happy getting a couple of books on sewing, a few packets of seeds or a pair of nice, but inexpensive earrings, than some expensive grand gesture that isn't really to my taste, although I do realise that it is the thought that counts.  Similarly, give me a box of Maltesers over a big box of chocolates any day, it's better for my waistline.

How do you prepare for Christmas with regard to present giving?  I'd love to hear your thoughts and feelings about it.


  1. I have two pressies already. A biography of Lawrence Olivier for my mum ( big fan ) and a pretty wicker heart for my newly married niece ( got that at the charity shop though brand new ! )

    With Jess's 21st in December & Joe's 18th in January it's going to be busy !

    My mum usually joins the four of us for Christmas & I love cooking the meal.

    I miss having little children; Christmas eve to me was a joy when they were young. Last year, Jess took Joe shopping which was rather sweet.

    I'm meeting a couple of Blogger friends in Winchester early December to visit the Christmas market. If you fancy hopping on a train to join us, you are more than welcome x

    1. Hi, Penny. I've done my usual again and posted a comment instead of a reply. Can you check out the post again for the comment as it was a bit long winded

  2. Hi, I've just been online this morning buying a few pressies from the Body Shop they've got 40% off at the moment and 18% cashback from Quidco. I'm trying out my new account as I've not used it yet. Plus I got a free gift and delivery. Check it out if you know anyone who likes their stuff.

    Winchester sounds very appealing. I bet it's lovely there at Christmas. They've got some lovely shops, Cath K and all. Can I let you know nearer the time? Will it be a weekday or weekend?

  3. weekday early December. Will let you know

  4. Hello :)

    Other than saving a few bob each month I do very little pre Christmas prep. I don't even buy cards and paper in the sales as I fall prey to the wrapping paper curse where wrapping paper spends the whole year trying to annoy me by leaping out of cupboards at every turn!

    We do a power shop around Lytham at the start of December and that pretty much does the trick. I don't have the space or patience to have stuff hanging round the house all year.

    1. I don't blame you. I just shove it all in the loft in January and then forget about it, save for keeping presents in a spare suitcase on the wardrobe top. Sometimes they get used for unexpected gifts before Christmas.

  5. We have very few presents to buy MIL, SIL & her partner, 3 nephews - that's it so I tend to buy something pertinent to their likes etc. As for Jon and I - we often go to Whitby for a nice lunch out (probably fish and chips at Mr. Chippy) then have a look round the charity shops with a budget of about £20. We like surprises too but again £20 fixed budget. For the first time since 2005 I am not having to cook Christmas dinner for 8 - my SIL is hosting this year.

    1. I bet you'll enjoy being a guest instead of a host this year.

    2. hmmmmmmm interesting point - but you don't know my SIL!!!!!!!!