CHRISTMAS is still months away, but if previous experience has taught us all anything, it's that every year the festive season comes round much quicker than we all think.
As a result, December can feel like an extremely expensive month, and while we try and get into the Christmas spirit, stressing about money can create a real downer on the party mood.
Which is why starting early can really help cut down the stress – and cost.
Here, savvy shoppers George Waterhouse, Tricia Rosas and Lizzie Marshall from The YOKO Club – a go-to site for parents looking to save time, stress and money – share their advice on what to stock up on now.
She says: "We know many people, especially parents, don’t have time to look around in the run-up to such a busy time of the year [but if you start now, you can] spread the load and the cost.
"Getting some things in the coming weeks rather than last minute will save you stress and money."
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With some items, it's important to buy them now so the best affordable ones don't sell out, leaving you having to splash out on more expensive or lesser-quality versions.
And while crackers aren't exactly essential items, they do provide a fair amount of festive cheer at Christmas dinner.
George says: "The closer to Christmas you get, the less choice you’ll have, as the cheaper cracker sets always sell out fast.
"Get yours now to get good value.
"We love these Wilko crackers that look a lot more expensive, or make it a family activity with The Works 'make your own dinosaur' crackers (£3 for 6)."
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George also recommends looking at toys early too, as many shops including supermarkets have specific sale dates.
She says: "Take advantage of the mid-season sales and offers at many brands to get the kids pressies sorted at a fraction of the price.
"Right now, The Works, B&M, Argos, WH Smith, and Tesco have toys and books on sale.
"For example, you can pick up this Kid's picture book bundle offer from The Works for £10 saving £49.90, and B&M is currently offering two for £20 on kids toys.
"Also, sign up to the free Tesco Clubcard to enjoy up to 50 per cent off over 100 toys including Lego, Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig and Fireman Sam until 2 November 2022.
"Additionally, WHSmith has better than half price offer on books, and the in-store clearance section is also bursting with incredible deals where we’ve picked up a lot of our Christmas pressie gifts and wrapping paper at more than 50 per cent off.
"Argos has a great offer on Chad Valley toys, including this walking dinosaur, £13 reduced from £18, and plenty of other kid’s gifts.
"Aldi special buys are also a must-check-out in the run up to Christmas as there are some amazing deals and finds to be had.
"For example, this mini Hey Duggee Mud Kitchen at £39.99 – around £20 cheaper than any comparable and unbranded kid’s mud kitchen."
The one thing we all forget when purchasing toys is that sinking feeling when you get the item out of the box, only to realise 'batteries are not included'.
George says: "Don’t forget the batteries for all the kids' toys they’ll want to play with on Christmas Day!
"On offer at Iceland Energizer Alkaline Power AAA Batteries, eight Pack.
"They're better than half price, at £1.75"
THE YOKO CLUB’S GENERAL CHRISTMAS SAVING TIPS
- Lists: Planning saves time and money, so write yours and stick to it!
- Manage expectations: Speak to friends and family to agree on a maximum spend per gift.
- Subscribe to save: Sign up to the newsletter of the brands you want to buy Christmas presents with as many offer 10% or 15% off your first order when you subscribe.
- Make your own gifts: We’re talking wreaths, photo books, candles, and cookies. Thoughtful and cost-effective!
- Preloved pressies: Check out sustainable and swap/pre-loved sites for presents and things like decorations. We’ve tried, tested and love: The Young Planet app (family items), Vinted (pre-loved clothing), and The Octopus Club (for baby and family items), as well as Amazon Warehouse for amazing discounts on returned and slightly damaged goods.
- Shop the sales! Buy festive decorations and next year’s pressies in the post-Christmas sales.
Festive family fun
Another thing you can really save on if you're happy to get a bit crafty is decorations.
This also has the added bonus of keeping the kids entertained in the run up to Christmas.
George says: "Rather than spending upwards of £20 on a wreath, and even more if it’s not artificial, head to Hobbycraft and get the wire wreath frame for £1.50.
"If you do this now you'll have time to follow the tutorial to make your own with things you find in your garden or local park/woodland."
Sniff out a scent-sational bargain
For adult gift ideas, there are some serious savings to be made too if you look around now.
George says: "Lloyds Pharmacy is offering this Calvin Klein Sheer Beauty perfume at £22, which is a saving of £40!
"One of The YOKO Club community told us about this amazing site called scentsational.com for beauty products and gifts.
"They have up to 80 per cent off as they are end of lines or in slightly damaged boxes – like this Jill Sander Aftershave Balm at £9.95 – which has a recommended retail price of £80!"
Cook up a feast
While the supermarkets are yet to put out their festive food offerings quite yet, another top tip is to keep an eye out and buy items that will keep as soon as you can.
George says: "Save money and stress by stocking up on festive food for the freezer or the cupboard that’s on offer or available now.
For example, when it becomes available the Asda frozen Christmas dinner bundle is £18.78 and serves eight.
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"This includes a bacon topped turkey joint, parsnips, pork sage & onion stuffing, roast potatoes and shredded mixed cabbage.
"All you need is enough space in your freezer!"
*All prices accurate at the time of publication and subject to change – please check individual store prices before purchasing.
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