Saturday, 4 December 2010

5 tips for christmas shopping

Advent day 4. If you haven't started the christmas shopping yet, it's probably a good time to start, especially if you want toavoid that mad rush which comes closer to the day.

1. Listen. When you talk to people, the're constantly expressing opinions on all kinds of things: music, TV, clothes, colours, people and film. These opinions are secretly tiny nuggets of information just waiting to be discovered by the struggling christmas gift buyer. By really listening to what they say, your presents can be more thoughtful, for instance, for a friend's recent birthday, I knew that her favourite actress was America Ferrara and she had recently discovered a liking for muesli. Solution? The Sisterhood of Travelling Pants films 1 and 2 on boxset and some home-made granola. Whatever you do though, don't just buy them something that you really want yourself. It's OK if it's something like a book which you enjoyed and genuinely think they will too, but just getting them something which you have wanted for ages and therefore assume they have too, is not a good idea.

2. Budget. By deciding how much you want to spend on each person in advance is a good way of keeping yourself in the black and also means you can prevent unfairness between friends by getting them something of more or less equal value. It can also make you search harder for good deals, or encourage you to find or even make something a little more individual, which you can be sure nobody else will get.

3. Shop online. Not only will you get better prices on sites like Amazon and, you can also find something for everyone in the same place and do everything in one order. You can also find suggestions for the particular gender/age group you are searching for, but remember: these are not perfect for everybody.

4.  List. Make lists for everything- who you have things for, who you need to get stuff for, which ones have been wrapped, labelled, sent. Once things are covered in wrapping paper, it is strangely difficult to identify them or remember which one is for whom. It's also a good idea to keep a list when opening presents so you can remember for thank you notes.

5. Stuck? Go for the safe option. If you really have no idea what to get and have had no inspired ideas while reading this, get something slightly predictable but still nice. Just try to avoid anything you know they will hate e.g. loads of chocolate for someone who is on a diet. Normal safe options include socks, chocolate, a notebook, book tokens etc.

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