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Our guide to Stress-Free shopping around christmas time

Christmas shopping or gift shopping can be stressful at any time of the year. Nobody wants to be trawling through shop after shop aimlessly hoping that the right gift idea will jump out at them at a budget price. Or worse still, you leave your shopping so late that you end up fighting with some other poor parent over the last Pokemon in Smyths. But you can avoid all this with some simple advice on how to shop this year. Here are our top tips to keeping your dreaded Christmas shop stress free:

1. Write a list, and check it twice!

It may sound simple but many of us go guns blazing into our shopping exhibitions without giving it much thought. Don't do this!! You will end up getting stressed and buying your children the wrong jumper/bike/watch/barbie, and dealing with the sulky aftermath on Christmas morning.

Find out exactly what people want off Santa (details are crucial) and write it down on a piece of paper or stick it in the notes on your phone. If you are not sure of what to buy for that special someone, think carefully of conversations you’ve had with the kids or ask them to write their own wish lists, so nobody is disappointed.

2. Plan a budget

As boring and tedious as financial affairs are, making sure you have enough cash for all those presents is vital. Create a list that includes the budget for each person or family member you are buying for. Make sure you exclude household bills, mortgage etc before you spend your life savings. Kris Kindle or “Secret Santa’ can help you save time and money. Don’t be tempted to go over your budget or you’ll be facing bankruptcy before the day arrives!

3. Avoid the crowds

Shopping early will save you time and money, and most importantly, a lot of stress. Shopping on ‘off-days’ like weekday mornings and before lunch time will be much calmer than any other time. If it means taking a morning off work, or getting a sitter, to do it, then pick a day that suits you best. Shopping on a Saturday or Sunday in December are basically a no-no.

If you are shopping online, November is the best time for early sale bargains and can be done from the warmth and safety of your own home. Read our guide on shopping online this Christmas for more.

4. Gift cards can save the day for the last minute shopper

Gift cards can be bought online or in shop and are the best for last minute shopping ideas. What it lacks in personality it makes up for in efficiency!

5. Shop alone and be armed

Nobody ever enjoyed Christmas shopping with their partner/child/friend ever in the history of the universe. Fact. So avoid the hassle of crying children, dehydrated partners and whiney friends. Go it alone. Shopping early in the day with your list in front of you and your budget in mind - and don't veer off your glorious path. Ps wear comfortable shoes.

6. Shop Local

Driving to Belfast to save a few quid will be guaranteed to be stressful. So will entering into the planet sized department stores or shopping malls at 6pm on a Thursday. These unfamiliar territories will you leave you lost, exhausted and cause you to end up spending more on petrol, parking and your sanity. Keep it simple and shop locally. Local Christmas markets pop-up in all areas around Ireland in late November and December. Not only will you avoid the crazy crowds, the blaring Christmas music, you’ll pick up a unique present for that special someone too.