It’s November so I think it is now safe for us to start talking about a certain December date! When it comes to Christmas you can be super organised or VERY last minute. I think I fall somewhere in between. I tend to start thinking about Christmas early on but don’t do much until after Molly’s birthday in November. Christmas is a pretty expensive time for most of us but once the kiddies come along it becomes even harder. Firstly there is the all important letter to Santa that seems to get longer each year and secondly there is too much cute stuff out there just begging to be purchased. I know for one my virtual baskets are already well stocked with potential purchases.

In order to try and help ease the strain on the purse I try to be quite clever about how I plan and purchase for Christmas. I also have the added factor that my Husband, Step-Dad and Brother in Law all have a birthday the week before!! I am aware that it is a mere 8 weeks away now, eeek, so I thought I would share a few of my top tips to hopefully help make Christmas a little bit less spendy.

Be Sensible

My number one point has to be ‘Be Sensible’! It’s so easy to get carried away but I’ve actually learnt over the last few years that the girls just become overwhelmed. They’ve had all the big presents (kitchen, bikes etc). This year all Molly want’s is a Barbie so I have decided she will get just one. Yes, it it might only be £10 but she has no concept of that. I’ve then asked family to buy her another couple as well. I can’t promise I won’t end up buying lots of nice filler presents but I will be trying.

Make a List

I don’t mean YOUR list to Santa. Although if he is reading I would like a Chanel handbag please (or a lipstick would be fine). Try and think of the potential present lists as early as you can. If you have teeny ones then decide what you would like to get them or for big kids listen out for hints they may drop in the months leading up to Christmas. I have no doubt that the older ones will be writing their lists pretty soon anyway.

Make sure you add on everyone you need to buy for, not just your own children. It can get a bit lengthy but knowing what you are up against makes it easier.

Once the list is written try not to deviate from it unless you see something ultra amazing (which does happen all the time in my house)! Easier said than done I know.

Share the Present List

Make sure family know what is on your Children’s list and let them to choose from this. It may seem less fun than a surprise but it means you won’t end up with lots of stuff you don’t need and also removes one more present from the inevitably long list that made it’s way to Santa!

Agree Present Rules With Family

I have a large family so we have made some present deals to lighten the financial burden and also cut down on how many presents I have to buy. With my brother, sister’s and associated other halves we do a Secret Santa where we all pick one person to buy for. We spend more per person than if we were buying individual presents but less than the combined cost of buying for everyone. So for example a £50 limit for one person rather than £20 per person for 6 people!

On Edd’s side they also have children so for the last few years we have agreed we will just buy for the kids at Christmas rather than each other.

Start Buying Early

I will admit that I have done a lot of shopping for the girl’s already. Over the last few months Edd and I have been buying up presents when we saw them and putting them away in the “present cupboard”. We have watched out for deals or bought things when we have seen them. This is great way to shop for more unusual presents. For example, we stocked up on gorgeous books and the cutest Maileg toys whilst in Totnes in the summer. I adore the shops there and it is really nice to support the local retailers. Plus, it was now so long ago that I have just about forgotten how much I spent on small toy mice!

Put Stocking Fillers In The Weekly Shop

Each time you do the weekly shop pop a few little treats in the trolley and I promise you won’t notice the costs. A little bag of chocolate coins or a bottle of bubble bath are good fillers. Or perhaps pop in a packet of crayons or a new notebook. You can also raid the toy aisle for a few of the bigger items. If you have older boys it may be a computer game or a DVD that makes it’s way in. Yes, I know these bigger items will tot up the total at the till but it is definitely better than heading out for one big Christmas toy shop.

Take Advantage of Deals

If you know what toys are on the list well in advance you can keep an eye out for any big offers out there. Argos frequently do a 3 for 2 offer on toys in the run up to Christmas and a lot of big retailers have 20% off days. Again, remember to stick to your list. It is very tempting to pop lots of extras in the basket just because they are cheap but if they aren’t needed put them back!

If all else fails go last minute. Most stores will do a big sale or price reduction in the days before Christmas so if you can hold your nerve there are definite savings to be made. Perhaps not best to risk this with your child’s number one Christmas request but for smaller presents or gifts for friends then you are sure to pick up some great deals.

Do you have any top tips when it comes to Christmas shopping and budgeting? As usual please do share.