You know that cliche of the disorganised and dishevelled husband or dad, rushing around a department store on Christmas Eve, grabbing random items that he somehow hopes are going to look carefully and artfully chosen the following morning when they appear under the Christmas tree? Well, welcome to my Christmas.
Yet, apparently, there are humans among us who avoid this nightmare scenario. According to a survey by the Centre for Retail Research, one in five people in the UK expect to have completed their Christmas present shopping by the end of November.
Karen Young, who lives in Doha, but will be visiting her family in Bolton this Christmas, is one of these people. She says that early shopping helps to spread the cost and can stop you overspending. She enjoys buying gifts for others, and says that making it a process that takes a couple of months in September and October “prolongs this pleasure”. “For me,” she says, “being organised helps reduce the ‘stress’, and I can then focus on the food, treats and – most importantly – seeing my lovely family.”
Lists are a key part of getting organised for the early Christmas shop. List who you need to buy for, how much you will spend on each one and present ideas for them. And then also list where you are going to shop – whether that is on the high street or online.
Bjorn Thomassen from east London thinks that avoiding the Christmas rush is a huge incentive to get organised. “I see people rushing around a few days before Christmas every single year, and just the thought of it stresses me out,” he says. He recommends starting to put money aside early in September, as a way of coping with the costs of Christmas.
Thomassen has another tip to avoid Christmas-present drama – having a couple of “emergency” presents on hand. This is useful, he says, “when someone you weren’t planning to buy a present for unexpectedly shows up with one for you”.
So, get that list written, get that shopping done and settle back knowing your stint as Santa for the year is over. You can then focus on mince pies and elaborate festive coffees, and enjoy a month’s anticipation of your loved ones opening their gifts.