As I mentioned last month, I really like to spread the cost of the festive season out. If you spread the preparation out over three or four months then you’re much less likely to end up with a nasty financial hangover in January, and you also have plenty of time to do some making, baking and bargain hunting.
The end of October is when many stores bring their Christmas stock out onto the shelves. You may well feel that’s too early, but it’s also a good time to look for introductory offers and sales of surplus stock that the new stock is replacing. It also tends to be the last chance for a lot of juicy deals and voucher codes.
I’ve noticed an increasing number of ‘flash sales’ this year too, where a moderately tempting offer is publicised for anything between an hour and a couple of days. While these can be useful, they can also make you panic buy, but if you’ve already written out a shopping list then that should keep things under control.
Now is also a good time to inform friends and relatives about your holiday and gifting plans. If you’re cutting back this year, warn people in advance – you might all decide to give one gift per adult, home made gifts or stocking fillers, or you could set a price cap of £5 or £10, for example. It’s just nicer if you say something sooner rather than later, so there are no misunderstandings.
Deals and offers
Let’s start with food and drink. The budget supermarkets such as Lidl and Aldi already have most of their festive foods on sale, so check the shelves and the freezer section for bargains. Their more popular goods often sell out in November so you might as well stash things while you can.
There are lots of drink offers available right now at Laithwaite’s (daily deals), Morrisons cellar (some of their best deals end Sunday), Tesco wines (some better than half price offers) and so on. Some of the wine clubs might have introductory offers soon, and cases sometimes turn up on the daily deals websites too – just make sure you read the small print and aren’t committing to memberships with compulsory purchases after that.
The big supermarkets are also likely to have competitive offers on spirits and big brand liqueurs, so look out for offers on things like whisky, brandy and Baileys from this week onwards.
Most pound shops and high street shops are stocking wrapping paper, gift bags, ornaments, charity Christmas cards etc now, so you could get some of those in early too.
Moving on to gifts, popular toys often sell out early, so if you know what you’re looking for then start comparing prices and searching for deals now. You might be able to combine purchases with vouchers, free postage and/or cashback.
It’s also time to start monitoring the prices of any big ticket items you might be considering, such as expensive electrical goods. You don’t have to take the plunge just yet if the prices aren’t right.
For luxury goods at affordable prices, make occasional trips to your local TKMaxx or visit their website. I’ve found the best bargains in-store, mostly – small batches don’t usually get listed online. I’d also say the online ‘sample sales’ type boutiques are worth a look right now: BrandAlley (my personal favourite), SecretSales, Cocosa and Achica. Be warned that many of these sales sites shop their goods from overseas, so they can take a while to arrive.
For stocking fillers, try the Play.com sale (see daily offers too), Firebox (look out for their £10-off vouchers) and Hawkin’s Bazaar (10% off until Sun 3rd Nov with code: NEWGIFTS). Debenhams also has 50% off many toys.
Other offers that you might be interested in:
- Superdrug: 3 for 2 on all makeup, plus a little bird tells me there will be at least 20% off all branded fragrance gift sets this coming weekend plus 10x the usual amount of reward points (10 per £1)
- House of Fraser: homewares 50% off, brand event 25% off
- Body Shop up to 50% off sale, plus another 40% off everything with code: 14673 (great for cheap body butters and gift sets)
- The White Company clearance sale, up to 50% off, plus other offers around 20% off
Although you can make Christmas cake pretty much on the day, traditional ones are usually made in October, and ‘fed’ occasionally with booze on and off until the big day. They can be left to mature for up to 12 weeks.
You could also make a few snacks, flavoured butters and side dishes, and put them in the freezer. There’s also still enough time to make your own:
- Mincemeat (sweet)
- Jams and jellies
- Infused vodkas
You’re running out of time for things like sloe gin and blackberry brandy, and home made wines at this point. Organised people may already be filtering some of these off and bottling them.
If you like doing handmade gifts and crafts, October is a good time to make traditional soaps because they need to rest for a few weeks before they can be used. It’s also a good month for knitting, crocheting, sewing, and so on, before the party season really gets started.
Have you had any great ideas, or seen any top offers? Please let us know!
You may also like the Christmas prep: September article.