Friday, November 02, 2018

Mama Life || Top Tips For Successful Gift Shopping

How do you like to shop? For me, when it comes to shopping for myself, I rarely have a list or plan and love nothing more than a good old mooch around the shops seeing what takes my fancy. I'd happily shop all day and be laden with bags by the end, add a stop for lunch and refreshments, and I'm a happy mama. Shopping is actually my favourite past time, as long as I've got a few quid to spend, I could be shopping for loo roll or cleaning products and I still feel that excitement!

When it comes to gift shopping though, particularly for Christmas when there is so many to buy for, I must admit that I do much prefer online shopping as opposed to trudging around the high street. It sounds totally selfish, but there just isn't quite the same thrill shopping for others anymore and as much I enjoy picking gifts and finding the perfect match for people, it's SO much easier browsing online, checking out gift guides and researching for special offers and guaranteeing best prices.

With Christmas fast approaching and endless kids birthday parties this time of year, I thought I'd share some of my top tips for gift shopping, to help you get the best from your shopping experience, the most for your money and the most suitable gifts for your friends and family. 

Make lists lists and more lists

Before you even step into a shop or bring up your Google search, make lists. Start by making a list of everyone you have to buy for, make sure you remember everyone and don't leave those 'tricky to buy for' people until last! Next, for each person write a list of potential gift ideas that you know they will love. For some the list will be as long as your arm, for others you may really struggle to think of anything and those are exactly the people you need to focus on first. Once you have your lists ready, you can get started researching for the perfect gifts or heading for suitable shops.

Keep to your budget, no pressure, no debt

At the start of your shopping fest, you also need to set a  budget (unless you're minted, in which case fill your boots!). Whether it's an over all budget or a budget for each individual, it's great to have a rough estimate of what to spend, not just for your own benefit but also to ensure gifts are even and nobody will feel disgruntled (it happens). When you know your budget, you can instantly dismiss those gifts that will be too extravagant, cross them off your list and don't give them a seconds thought. It's so easy to feel extra pressure when gift buying, especially from kids, we all want to make people smile but at what cost? Nobody wants a happy time like Christmas to fuel them into debt leaving a shadow over what should be a nice family time and celebration. Don't give in to pressure for those top price tag gifts, stick to your budget and remember that often some of the most thoughtful and well received gifts aren't the expensive ones. Also, if money is super tight, you could organise a secret Santa style gift swap amongst family members or be truthful and say you can't afford it this year, nobody should judge and nobody would want someone they care about spending money they don't have!

Look for voucher codes, multi offers, add ons, sales and price comparisons

This is harder for high street shopping, but as we all have mobile phones now, with a quick search online you can double check prices elsewhere before you purchase to make sure you're getting the best deal. Many shops have sales pre Christmas, they all want our business and often you can get things cheaper closer to Christmas so don't panic if you've left things late. If you're online, check out  those bargain 'add-on' items on Amazon, multi offers like 3 for 2 gifts and always search for discount codes before you hit that buy button. Today I went to buy a gift for my husband while it's on offer and with one quick search I found a £10 off voucher. There are nearly always discounts of some kind, especially with things like personalised gifts and photo books. Always compare prices and look for any ways to save money such as offer banners on the site or voucher code sites.

Keep safe while you shop

When shopping online, remember that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. If it's crazy cheap, it's probably cheap for a reason; it could be fake, take months to arrive or even be a scam. Shop on familiar or recommended sites and never hand your card details over until you are 100% certain the site is genuine and secure. Paying with credit card and PayPal can be safer, but always check web addresses and links in emails to make sure you don't lose money at what should be a fun time. With high street shopping, keep your money and cards super safe. Unfortunately, this time of year people do get desperate and pick pockets are out in force, knowing there will be busy crowds and extra cash around. Be wary of street sellers and keep shopping bags close by when you stop.

Read gift guides

For inspiration, blogs, big name magazines and personal interest sites (biking, crafting etc) can give great ideas for people with a particular hobby or interest. If they enjoy something we know little about, consulting the experts for inspiration can be so helpful. Just hit up Google and search 'gift ideas for donkey riders' or whatever their hobby is (probably not donkey riding) and have a browse for ideas.

Whatever you're preferred shopping methods are, stay safe this year, spend within your budget and shop savvy! Are you a high street or online kind of shopper?

*Collaborative post