Friday, August 19, 2016

Is It Ever Too Early To Plan For The Holidays? Shopping For A Big Family Made Simple!

I know what you’re thinking. It’s summer. But before we know it, the temperature will drop, the afternoon sun will vanish, and we’ll be on a Christmas countdown. When you’ve got a big family, time management is everything! If you’re eager to get ahead of schedule, here are some holiday shopping and planning tips to prevent last-minute meltdowns.

If you don’t already draw up a monthly budget, now is the time to start! Budgeting is a useful way of keeping track of your finances and helping you to save. Some months may be more costly than others. You can adjust your budget accordingly, and plan ahead. With the holidays not far away, sticking to a budget is even more important. Work out how much you can afford to put in the pot each month in the run-up to the festive period. You may want to save and then do your shopping closer to the time. Alternatively, you could start putting gifts away now. Planning ahead enables you to spread the cost, rather than taking a massive financial hit in December.

If you’re not used to budgeting, there are loads of tools you can use. You can download templates online, or use spreadsheets. If you’re a fan of old-fashioned techniques, you can get a pen and a notepad out. When you’re doing your budget, write down all your usually monthly outgoings, such as bills. Add any one-off payments you’re expecting, such as birthdays or vacations. In another column, jot down everything you’ve got coming in. Work out how much you have available once you’ve done your sums. This will help you to determine how much you can spend.

If you have a large extended family, have a chat about gift budgets. Are you buying for your kids, as well as siblings, parents and nephews and nieces? If so, this can be incredibly expensive. To make life easier for all of you, you could set a limit or create a Secret Santa style system? You could buy for one sibling each and then join forces for your parents, for example.  

Making savings
All of us want to make savings wherever possible. Christmas begins early in the retail world, so look out for offers and deals. If you spot potential gifts, hang fire. Sign up for mailing lists and register your email address with discount websites. If you’re on the mailing list, you’ll receive offer codes, coupons, and news of flash sales. When you’re catering for a large party, or buying a lot of gifts, the odd saving here and there soon adds up.

At Christmas, we tend to push the boat out when it comes to food and drink. If you shop at the same supermarket, make sure you take advantage of loyalty offers. Are you enrolled in a scheme? Do you collect points every time you go to the checkout? Are you receiving the coupons you’re entitled to? You may also notice that as the holiday season approaches, popular items are offered at lower prices. If you buy the same things every year, make sure you take advantage of deals. If there’s a half-price offer on, or a 2-for-1, stock up.

Coming up with gift ideas
Finding the best gifts is perhaps the most important goal for every parent at Christmas. You want your kids’ little faces to light up when they tear off the paper on Christmas morning. If you have lots of kids, buying gifts requires thought, organization, and imagination. If you’re looking for ideas, here is a mini gift guide to get you thinking.

Gifts for babies
Buying for babies can be tricky. They don’t really have any concept of what’s going on at Christmas, but you still want to make a fuss. Classic toys are always a good idea. They never go out of fashion, and children can play with them when they get a little older. Soft toys, train tracks, and books are popular options. As babies grow, they become more responsive to noises, lights, and colors. Look out for sensory toys that will stimulate them. Bath toys are another good option. If your baby is starting to get up and about, try and encourage them to crawl and walk by buying push-along toys and ride-ons.

Buying for toddlers
Toddlers usually have a pretty good idea of what they like, so use their interests as inspiration for your search. Do they love animals or are they crazy about dinosaurs? Is space a big hit at the moment, or have you got a mini racing driver on your hands? Toddlers to be very active, so invest in games and outdoor toys. Many toddlers also enjoy engaging in role play. Fancy dress outfits and toy kitchens, houses, and shops are all fantastic choices. These kinds of presents promote imaginative play. They’re also great for encouraging bonding between siblings. If you buy a house, for example, you could ask your family and friends to buy furniture or accessories to go with it.

Presents for older kids
As kids get older, they tend to present you with a ready-made list of things they want. This can make shopping easy, but it’s always good to throw in a few surprises too. For older children, buying presents can be challenging. Why not add a personal touch to make your presents extra special? You could invest in a personalized t-shirt or a backpack, for example? You could buy initialed jewelry, or design a sticker for a skateboard? You’ll find some amazingly unique gift ideas online.

Ideas for teenagers
Teenagers are notoriously difficult to buy for. Many just ask for money, but it’s nice to have something to open on Christmas Day. Think about your teen’s interests and hobbies when you’re tracking down gifts. Do they love sport, or are they a massive fan of computer games? Do they collect gadgets or spend all their time watching YouTube makeup tutorials? Think about what they spend their money on and listen out for hints!

Family gift ideas
Sometimes, it’s lovely to treat the family as a whole to a gift. There may be something you’re all desperate for at home, such as a new TV or a tablet. You could buy some new board games to play together or update your DVD collection. Alternatively, why not spend some quality time together? You could book a weekend away or a day out somewhere. Go camping, take a trip to the beach or visit a theme park. Time flies and time together is often much more precious than material presents.

Embracing online shopping
Does the thought of traipsing around busy shopping malls with heavy bags fill you with dread? Are you keen to avoid last-minute dashes to the store and queues of stressed-out shoppers? If so, there’s a solution. Internet shopping is a blessing for every parent looking to do their shopping with minimal stress. If you have a laptop, smartphone or tablet, you can buy everything you need from the comfort of your living room. You don’t need to worry about carrying heavy objects through the streets, queuing for hours on end, or moving through crowds at snail pace.

Shopping online is also an excellent way of saving money. If you have ideas, you can use search engines to compare prices online. You’ll often find that retailers sell the same products, but the prices vary significantly. If you save on every item you buy, this could make a massive difference to your total spend.

If you’re new to online shopping, it can take a bit of getting used to. But persist with it. Before you know it, you’ll be navigating the Internet with ease. Search engines will become your new best friend. From the search page, you’ll find everything you need just by typing in some keywords. You can browse to your heart’s content, or track down specific items.

The Internet is also an excellent resource if you’re looking for inspiration. You’ll find ideas for festive decorations, recipes or activities to do with the kids.

There are weeks to go before Christmas, but it’s always good to be prepared. If you have a large family, shopping can take ages and become incredibly stressful. If you start thinking about ideas now, you’ll save yourself time and effort. Before you start shopping, do some simple accounting. Set a budget for the next few months, and work out how much you want to spend on Christmas grocery and gift shopping. You can either set aside a sum each month or start shopping early. Collect vouchers and coupons, and use the Internet to find out about discount codes. If you see things you like, sign up for the website’s mailing list. The emails that you get often contain special offers. If you hang fire, you could buy the items you want with 10 or 20% off, for example. If you get to grips with online shopping, you can also find incredible gift ideas, and save yourself the hassle of braving busy malls.

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