1. Keep a list
Keep a checklist in your purse so you don’t buy two things for the same person. Start a notebook for next year – ideas you can’t find this Christmas, and gifts already given.
2. Don’t rush
Pace your spending and get one gift at a time. Take one little detour each time you go out – pop into the toy shop while waiting for football practice to finish, or get that bottle of perfume while you’re buying toothpaste!
3. Go online
Make sure there’s plenty of time to get the gifts delivered, bearing in mind the postal workload and possible bad weather at Christmas. You won’t want to buy a standby gift if one you’ve paid for is stuck in transit.
4. Goods that might need to be exchanged
Ask for a gift receipt and shop at a store that has a branch local to the person you’re buying for. Don’t buy too early or the returns period will have expired by December 26.
5. Buying for children
Don’t buy toys with small pieces for a child with younger siblings. Avoid giving toys they already have by buying books or generic gifts (like Lego bricks that can be added to existing sets).
6. Buying toys
Be considerate – buy toys that are easy to store, washable and if necessary, buy a carry case for all the pieces that come with a game or set – once the box has been broken into, the bits with be everywhere!
Check these are included, where needed, or add a pack to your gift if they aren’t.
8. Make it special
When buying something practical (like an umbrella or a purse) choose a colour you know the person likes but wouldn’t buy themselves. Eg, we usually buy sensible black or navy gloves for ourselves, but a daring scarlet pair might be the treat we’d really love!
Who are you buying for? If they are for a child, is there a games or DVD department in the branch of that high street store where they live? Does your mum really shop online for music? And choose tokens that last at least a year.
10. For the person who has everything
Forget vases and socks! Choose foodie treats like posh olive oils or where appropriate, wine – these always get used, and even £10 will get you something great.