The “C-Word”: The Christmas Sales Survival Guide Where to shop, when to do it and what to buy.

It’s just around the corner, and like anything that lurks just out of sight, it’ll jump out on you at the last minute and take you and your wallet by surprise.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be in the middle of the manic rush to stock up on food, vodka, and of course, presents.

The mention of the Christmas shop can strike fear and stress straight to the heart of even the most hardened shopper, and the Christmas high street can be a battleground of epic proportions.

Sass and shopping. Bitching and buying. Every year without fail.

However, there are certain tricks and tips you can follow each year in the run up to the big day to ensure you have a successful shopping spree and take advantage of what the stores have to offer; from those elusive presents and who knows… maybe a little Christmas gift for yourself along the way.

Here is my personally tried and tested method to helping you make the most of your Christmas shop, making sure you never have to fear hearing the “c-word” again.

Tactical warfare – The Beauty Of Lists:

If there is only one thing you take away from this article, make sure it’s this; make lists. Lists are your friends. Lists will guide you through the chaos of the shop floor and straight to what you’re looking for. Even Santa needs a list, but I might save how to do a naughty and nice list for Valentines Day…

Teachers, friends, extended family, cats, whatever. Then go through and try to the best of your ability to think of a gift for each person on that list. You might think of them all, or just a few, but either way you have to have an idea before you leave the house. You can’t leave the house without having an idea, that’s shopping suicide.

It’s the biggest mistake in the book, the “I’ll know when I see it” trap. If you are truly desperate for ideas try heading online for some inspiration… failing that, you could always try simply asking what they might like for Christmas.


Red Dawn – Schedule Shopper:

When you’ve got all your present ideas together, the next time and stress saving step is to plan when you’re actually going to venture out to buy these them. Internet shopping offers a fine solution to this, especially if you happen to suffer from crushing agoraphobia, but in practical terms, its difficult to judge just what you’re buying. The size, the colour etc. Not to mention the astronomical postage you have to pay on top. Add that to a tragic Christmas delivery service and it just doesn’t add up.

So when should you hit the high-street? Don’t be taken in by the idea that getting up ridiculously early will guarantee you good deals or the pick of the day. Shops are notorious for this during busy periods and will put out the less desirable stock first thing in an effort to get it shifted. Rather, wait till around 10, or 2. This fall either side of the busy lunch period and gives shops a chance to restock and reorganize the floor. You might even get your hands on some merch while its being unloaded. If you’re after something highly sought after this Christmas this is a good tip to follow.

The day on which you chose to go is also critical in how busy and stressful the day will be. Saturday is the busiest day of the week for shoppers and as we get closer to Christmas the numbers will only go up. Instead, aim for a Wednesday or a Tuesday afternoon as these have been shown to be the quietest days of the week.
If it’s a food gift you’re after, make sure you reach for the back of the shelf and ensure the gift will still be in date, because for some reason, major shops decided it would be a good idea to sell Christmas food that goes off before it even hit’s December. Not that I’m bitter or anything… your mince pies might be though.

Planning The Invasion & The Exit Strategy – Know Your Route:

This is key to making sure you keep you cool and your wallet closed. By knowing which shops your going to and in which order, you can make a plan for the quickest most efficient way to get in and out. Not necessarily a money saving technique but if you have very little self-control and the pull of big red “sale now on” sign is too much for you to bear, it can be a real help.


Plan The Next Attack – Boxing Day Sales:

Boxing day is seen by many as a day to rest and get over the long day of resting you’ve had the day before. People also eat a lot of turkey in-between bread and call it a meal 3 times in an attempt to justify that massive bird you bought without looking at the weight. Then again, we’ve all brought something home and regretted the day after…

Well suck it up and get your head in the game; Boxing Day sales are here.

It’s true that sales start earlier and earlier every year, but the boxing day sale is still the staple of the Christmas shopping season. It’s a retailer’s final chance to get rid of all the Christmas stuff before Valentines Day crap starts getting shoved down our thoughts at a cut price. So take advantage!

Think toward next year and who knows, you may even get one or two steals for yourself (okay maybe more than one or two) with all that Christmas card money your distant relatives showered you with…


Prisoners Of War- The Trends To Look For:

Now we’re not talking about furby here (however if you do have a spare £54.99 lying around I’d be glad to accept). We’re talking about clothes. When your looking for yourself (or pretending its for someone else) keep in kind this winters key trends. Tartans are coming back in, as is the English heritage look. Black is a sure thing as ever and “burnt” colours from the autumn continue to be a big influence. In terms of cut, a double-breasted sport jacket is a must have and if you can pick one up for the right price, a few different coloured blazers wouldn’t hurt. Contrast lapels and single breast 3 button jackets paired with jeans are hot right now, and judging by the weather, a little bit of heat is just what we all need…

So there we have it. If you follow these 5 little tips and stick to your plan, you can navigate this Christmas without the slightest firing up of stress or the threat of the red mist descending. Remember to check out your local area before hitting the big cites and always make sure you take a shopping partner… if not for moral support but for a little fun while you’re hard at the Christmas haul. Banish the c-word forever and have yourself a fabulous little Christmas!

– Grant Holmes