17 tips for Christmas shopping

Nikki Parkinson How to 36 Comments

I’ll be upfront with you: I LOVE buying gifts for other people.

I love the thought process leading up to the purchase, I love the execution of the thought process and I love the GIVING of said gift.

When it comes to the big kahuna occasion of gift buying – Christmas – I’d like to smugly think I’ve got you covered … in fancy pants wrapping paper and a big ribbon if that’s what you’d like.

So today, I’d like to share with you my 17 tips for Christmas shopping and gift buying.

It’s not rocket science but if you start now (if you haven’t already done so), then following some of these tips might remove the stress that may crop up with this task.

Also, if you scroll down to the end of this post, you’ll see that (thanks to Kimba Likes) bloggers from around Australia are linking up and sharing their gift guides. There will be more added to this post, so maybe bookmark this page and come back to it over the next few weeks.

17 tips for Christmas shopping

17 tips for Christmas shopping

1. Start early. I know this is easier said than done. We are a family that has a number of birthdays around this time of year too – including Miss SY’s 18th in a couple of weeks – but even if you make a small start it will create less stress when it comes to the pointy end of the festive season.

2. Make a list. Not the naughty and nice list (although that may apply to some of your relatives and friends 😉 ) – I suggest before you go anywhere near the shops that you make an extensive list of all the people who you need to buy gifts for this year. There may be work colleagues, friends, kids, partners, cousins, aunties, uncles, grandparents, parents … write them all down. Don’t forget to check it twice.

3. Make a budget. You know I’m not good with the B word but Christmas spending (not just the gift stuff) can easily get out of hand and leave you with a financial hangover in the New Year. Next to each name on that list, make a note of roughly the amount of money you’re prepared to spend on that person’s gift. So for me, I’m in one Secret Santa that has a $20 value; for each of our kids we might agree to spend $200; for a niece or nephew it may be $30. We don’t always stick rigidly to the budget but this does provide a framework for us to work within.

4. If you’re a salary earner, work out how many more pays you have until Christmas. This is tied into the budget as you will probably want to spread the spending across those number of pay cycles. Looking at it on paper will help you work out before you start shopping whether you have the funds you’ve allocated to each gift.

5. Let your fingers do the walking. In the olden days this meant picking up the phone book and phoning stores to check on prices and availability of items on your list. Now it involves us pulling out our phones, laptops or tablets while we’re seated comfortably in front of the TV. You can compare prices and make choices in minutes – and then decide if you’d like to then look at the item in store or add to cart and buy there and then. Check delivery costs and timing. I tell you I’m a big fan of the online shop and I can but imagine how it’s changed the lives of those who live remotely.

6. A shopping centre reccie is also a good idea. I find online shopping so easy that I can forget that there is a big, wide bricks and mortar shopping world out there. Taking a walk through your nearest centre, checking window displays and merchandising can really help you with ideas. I was really impressed with the Myer Giftorium after seeing it in person last week. Myer has created this space and divided it up into gift ideas for different people in your life. The gifts weren’t boring and predictable either. David Jones also has a version of this without the fancy name.

7. Browse local independent retailers. I’m a big fan of shopping and supporting fabulous lifestyle stores that make it so, so easy to find gifts that are a little different. The merchandising alone makes me want to buy ALL THE THINGS. The store owners know their customer and buy accordingly. Service will often include gift wrapping too. That’s a win.

8. Independent retailers are also found online. Support them. So many of Styling You’s advertisers are small businesses. Shopping with them means you’ll make a direct impact on someone’s livelihood. That’s a very good thing.

9 Christmas gift ideas 2014

1. Camilla sarong $149 @ Zambezee Boutique | 2. Hola clutch $39 @ Blue Bungalow | 3. Scatter Love postcards by Fat Mum Slim and Emma Kate Creative $20 (set of 10) | 4. Orla Kiely Blueberry and Rosemary scented candle $43.95 @ AlsoKnownAs | 5. The Jewel Collective pink sapphire and rose gold vermeil star earrings $125 | 6. Uberkate Uberbanner $255 | 7. Bohemian Traders tee $59 | 8. Typo light $34.95 | 9. Samantha Wills ring $99

9. Sign up for email or Facebook alerts from your favourite stores. Sales and special offers are no longer reserved for twice a year. Individual stores have special offers, discounts and in-store or online events every week. Play your Christmas shopping cards right and you’ll not pay full retail. I subscribe via email to my favourite stores plus on Facebook, I hover my cursor over the “like” button on a page and check the “get notifications” tab … this helps me to keep in touch when so often Facebook doesn’t put the pages I’ve “liked” into my newsfeed.

10. Really think about the person for whom you’re buying.  I mean REALLY. Just because I’m obsessed with pineapples doesn’t mean that everyone on my list will share in my obsession (more’s the pity). Think about that person. What are THEIR obsessions? How do they like to spend their time? In a Secret Santa situation where you may not know the person, stalk them a bit on social media … you’ll soon get the idea.

11. Think about the things you’ve bought or received of late that have been fabulous. BabyMac wrote a great post about this and I love this as a starting point. She gave us a SodaStream earlier this year as a hostess gift and it’s been the gift that keeps on giving every night as I have my fancy sparkling (instead of still) water. I’ve also bought some beautiful linen and table linen this year that would make great gifts.

12. Gift cards or vouchers are very ok. Yes, they are. I’m always lucky to be on the receiving end of at least one gift voucher each Christmas and to me that just extends the excitement, especially if I can use that voucher in the post-Christmas sales. They are particularly good for teenagers who may use it towards buying a more expensive item they’ve been saving for. A fabulous gift for a partner who knows their wife would love to revamp her wardrobe could be popping a clothing voucher in side a copy of Unlock Your Style (you didn’t think you’d get through a Christmas guide without a shameless plug, did you?) with a note granting them a day – sans kids – to shop for said wardrobe.

13. Sometimes it’s the experience that counts. Just like the extended Christmas power of the voucher, a voucher that offers an experience can be a winning gift. Think spa or beauty treatment, night away in a hotel, movie tickets, restaurant voucher, cooking school class … anything that comes with a bit of a treat or pamper factor on the side.

14. Consider the gift that keeps on delivering.  Christmas might be just one day but your gift could keep on delivering for the year. Magazine subscriptions are the obvious ones here but also consider a sampler subscription like Her Fashion Box or Bellabox Beauty Box. Teeing up a monthly flower delivery at your recipient’s local florist would be a winner. And as someone who likes to dabble in the kitchen, a subscription to Gourmet Girlfriend’s Clever Clogs Cooking Club would be tasty and fun.

15. Consider the gift that keeps on giving.  This can be giving community fair trade gifts, donations to charities or even as an individual or family donating gifts for families or children in need. The Smith Family’s toy and book appeal is a great one to get kids on board with. Or offer tangible help to a family in need through the Vinnies Christmas Appeal.

16. Got a big family to buy for? Why not start a secret Santa? This involves everyone coming to some kind of agreement but I’ve heard and seen how successful this can be. One friend’s immediate and extended family sets a budget of $50 and they have to buy for one other person. This not only helps the budget but means that with $50 the family member is likely to get something substantial. In our family, when the kids came along we stopped buying for the parents (our brothers and sisters) and just concentrated on the kids.

17. Don’t be afraid to strongly hint as to what might be on your wishlist. I know this post is about giving to others but those others might but be needing a little help with ideas. I’ve never been backward in coming forward in this department … and I’ve never been disappointed. #justsaying

So, over to you … what tips for Christmas shopping can you add to this list?

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

PS. Make sure you check out the links below for more gift ideas and tips. And bookmark this page as those links will increase as we get closer to Christmas. If you’re a blogger who’s posted about Christmas gift buying, add your link too!


Comments 36

  1. What some great tips. I love Christmas, but historically I’ve never been great at buying good gifts. It’s not that I don’t have the intention, it just seems I get sidetracked 😉 So thanks for this list, it will keep me on the straight and narrow this year 🙂

  2. A tip for those doing secret santa with adults, on a piece of paper with our name on it we include 4 gift suggestions so when “santa” goes shopping he has some idea of what to buy

  3. Great Chrissy Shopping ideas. I do most of these – make a list, set a budget, do Secret Santa with the family, give a gift to Wishing Tree, local window shopping, online shopping. I work at a school so am currently researching gifts for fellow staff (I usually make something personal) plus my kids teachers. Love this time of year!

  4. I love your list. I have only got a few things for family so far. I have family all over Australia so I have told Jacob that we will send hampers this year because it saves me having to wrap and post the gifts with three little kids in tow! I love that typo light. Would suit one of my girls rooms for sure.

  5. This is the best Christmas-related post EVER! So many good tips here. I have literally just ordered my first gift this week. Going to sit down and write a list of who I need to buy for and start brainstorming gift ideas. My mother-in-law also comes in handy. She’s forever at the shops and will text me to say she’s bought something for us to give to a family member for Christmas/their birthday/etc. She’s like my very own personal shopper!

  6. Hate to be a show off (but so going to). Did Christmas shopping for 9 grandchildren in half an hour last Sunday. It’s called “The Smiggles Shop”. Walked in, told the girls I have a $50.00 budget each child and age group. She suggested certain items – all done. Shop assistants can be great. All done – hubby and I then had a lovely lunch. Pow !!!!! We do Secret Santa for the adults (too many). So only 1 present to buy and all done. Looking forward to Christmas this year, have family coming from Queensland. Even bought pineapple cushions and tablecloth for The Brown Trading Co for old times sake. I’m sure you would be proud Nikki. xxxx

  7. Great tips Nikki! I like No. 17. Though I am not at all subtle in the asking. It is an email to my OH and sister with links to exactly what I want (with sizes when required). I know it is nice to get a surprise but it is also really nice to get what you want too!

  8. Thank you for the great tips Nikki, I’m a big fan of the LIST it keeps you on track and I also like looking up online where I can get the gift I have chosen so I don’t have to trawl the shops looking for it!
    I also like to make a list for the things I have to buy for Christmas Day since I’m hosting it this year and I own lovely white platters I’m going for a silver and White theme.I have to help a Dad with his shopping so I had better get mine done.
    Nikki I also like the wrapping part I like to give pretty gifts with bows X

  9. I love shopping locally in a couple of gift/ homewares/ women’s clothing and accessory stores for girlfriends and female family members. I have a couple of brilliant nearby options that always have a great range (choice of items and prices) for the ladies in my life.
    I’ll be checking out the guide for teenage boys, but does anyone have one for men? My husband and brother are the most difficult people for me to buy for, because they don’t actually want much and anything they really want they buy for themselves.

    1. I love shopping for other women Johanne – agree that it’s so much fun! Re teenage boys, haven’t seen anything yet but I know that the teenage boy in this house likes iTunes cards, EB Games cards and book vouchers. Men are tricky … I thought that Myer’s Giftorium offered some fun suggestions … worth checking out and seeing if anything connected for your husband or brother. Or a voucher for an experience – dinner out, movies etc?

  10. Great post Nikki, thanks. And thanks for all the excellent links. How is it that I’ve not visited kimbalikes’ blog before?!? What a treasure.

  11. all good pointers, thanks nikki!
    got the list! … I’m improving on my nebulous, random access brain!
    … focus is important when shopping!
    online is easier, although one can get carried away and I’m sceptical of quality! … I’m shopping locally this year! … love m:)X

  12. Great tips Nikki. I love present buying too and thankfully have an enormous cupboard to stash things away during the year. In fact, an audit last week revealed I’ve nearly sorted the kids already – not sure whether to be proud of that or not! I also love a charity gift – both to give and receive. x

    1. Ah the present cupboard … as the kids got older that got more difficult to maintain because their requests and interests became more specific! Used to love buying up in the mid-year toy sales but sadly cannot predict that what he liked in July that he’s still into in December. I think you should be proud the kids are sorted!!

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