So it’s that time of year again. If you’re anything like me, you’re very keen on Christmas itself and enjoying your excited offspring delighting in the magic of it all. Creating the magic, however, can be another matter all together! Christmas shopping with kids can be particularly hard.
A big part of the planning, of course, is tending to what can be quite an extensive present list. For an array of parents, children, Great Aunts and family pets.
I find it quite mind boggling, I’ve put together a few handy hints to help with this ongoing pre Crimbo task. To help you enjoy the festivities – school shows, consuming mince pies and mulled wine with friends, a trip to see Santa. Without continually fretting about what on earth you’re going to get for Great Uncle Bernard and where you’re going to get it.
Be organised – make your list well in advance and look at every outing as an opportunity to tick someone off – challenge yourself! The quicker you can get through Christmas Shopping with kids the better!
It can be a bit of a shocker making a list of absolutely everyone who might need a gift – but just bite the bullet. Better to be on top of it than have that last minute panic we all know about! There’s the obvious contenders, but what about social events – who are you seeing just before or after Christmas who you might want to take a small gift to?
Then once you’ve got your people list, write down any present requests (usually children and the odd high maintenance parent who won’t settle for another pair of slippers). If you know what to get, then we highly recommend using the internet. The two ‘Christmas Giants’ online are Amazon and Ebay, but many high street stores such as John Lewis and Marks and Spencer have excellent online shopping services. Look into a service like Amazon Prime for a free trial month (but remember to cancel it if you don’t want to pay £5.99 monthly thereafter!), and get fast and free delivery on a huge variety of items in the run up to Christmas. Ebay don’t offer an all inclusive delivery service, but their sellers often have either free postage offers or reasonable express delivery charges.
Online shopping can of course be done in the evening, during school, nursery (or work!) hours and from the comfort of your own sofa, with a cup of tea or wine to hand – an attractive alternative to visiting the high street on a chilly winter day…
When you have to venture out – if you can offload the kids to a partner, parents, friends – do it! Prepare in advance and make space for your shopping time. You can get so much more done and won’t feel close to a nervous breakdown!
If you must take the kids, there are a couple of options we can recommend:
Some shopping centres have crèches, like World of Children at The Bentalls Centre in Kingston upon Thames.
Check around for one near you. If you like it, it’s definitely worth a few pounds to get your shopping done hassle free!
Some shopping centres also have Santa Grottos. Use as a bribe to get your shopping sorted without a kid meltdown as an end of trip treat – after all, Santa will definitely favour good shopping behaviour!
Some garden centres have Santa Grottos too – plus play areas and/ or aquariums whilst stocking plenty of frippery that may be just the ticket for Great Uncle Gerald.
Visit Christmas markets. They’re often more fun for kids than big shopping malls and you’re likely to pick up some fab unique gifts. We love this artisan market at Wedgwood.
Some also have festive displays and even live reindeer to visit, like Garsons Farm in Surrey, which can be an excellent combo for appeasing excited children whilst grabbing a couple of gifts.
Get the kids to choose a gift! Not suitable for every recipient, perhaps, but it might cheer Great Uncle Peter to receive a slightly obscure gift with a label saying ‘chosen for you by……’
Buy in bulk – ok, so it’s cheating. A bit. But if you save yourself stress, everyone’s a winner! Wines, teas, candles and toiletries are interchangeable gifts most people are happy to receive and get used throughout the year.
Vouchers – a great one if you don’t mind people knowing how much you’re spending. Just order online, or pick up in your local store (Co op for example stock a great selection) and you’re done!
If you’ve really run out of time and/ or funds, a great alternative is to offer your own voucher for cooking a meal for the recipient in the new year. This also provides an opportunity for socialising once the festive madness has died down!
What are your top tips for Christmas Shopping with kids? Tell me in the comments.
Wishing you Happy Shopping!