Christmas time is hectic, you've got a home to prepare and plenty of presents to buy too. Here we've got some shopping tips for you busy mums. 

Parenting on Female First

Parenting on Female First

As a busy wife and mum to two, Becky Wiggins (aka English Mum) shares her advice for getting ahead of the impending Christmas present buying panic:

First things first: make a plan: grab a pen and paper (old school!), write a list of people you need to buy for and have a think about your budget per person.  Then stick to it!  Consider cash as that helps avoid overspend. Keep the list handy so you can note down any gift ideas next to each person if you think of any.

Take time to sit down with your kids and write letters to Santa.  It's a lovely tradition and will give you great insight into the sort of presents they’re after - even if your budget won't really stretch to a pony this year (again).

If you’d prefer to cram it all into one mammoth shopping day, start early.  If you can, pick a midweek day and stick to your list.  Oh, and it goes without saying to try and pick a date before Christmas Eve. 

If you are shopping early, be on top of the present hiding.  There's nothing worse than gifts being discovered before the big day - be creative: use empty suitcases, boxes in the garage or even high kitchen cupboards!

If you’re travelling before Christmas, use airport waiting time to make the most of the favourable prices vs the high street and the fabulous shops all under one roof.  Gatwick in particular has a good line up having just opened a raft of stores including a new Harrods Department Store, Aspinal of London, Hugo Boss, Mango, Superdry and Ernest Jones (plus Zara, Victoria's Secret, Fat Face, Snow + Rock and Ted Baker to come in early December). They also offer a ‘voucher passport’ with a range of special offers and a free ‘Shop Fly and Collect’ service, meaning you can go to town on buying big gifts or stocking fillers. You simply leave shopping bags at the airport and pick them up on your return! 

Whilst abroad, consider buying a few gifts to bring home: local wines, soaps, pastries and cheese (if you don’t mind stinking out your suitcase) make wonderful presents, especially if you’re not certain on people’s tastes.  Just step away from the castanets.

If you’re buying for teenagers, gift vouchers are your friend.  In the run up to Christmas, I add a gift voucher into my shopping basket every week.  It spreads the load and no teen will sneer at iTunes or Top Shop vouchers.

Get baking: there’s no rule that says you have to buy your presents.  Home made presents show that you’ve really thought about the recipient, so bake an extra couple of Christmas cakes, knock up a batch of boozy mince pies or make chocolates, lemon curd or chutney.

Think quality rather than quantity.  We’ve cut down on the amount of silly stocking fillers that cost money and were discarded by Boxing Day.  Favourite shower gels, shampoos and chocolate bars are all great stocking fillers that you can stock up on in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Have a couple of small emergency presents handy: wrap a nice box of chocolates or a scented candle just in case guests arrive at the door bearing gifts.  There’s nothing more awkward than receiving an unexpected gift so be prepared with a backup.  On the plus side, if you don’t give them away you get a surprise extra pressie for yourself.

And finally, give your children a small budget to buy something for each other (or for you) - it's lovely for them to experience the joy of present giving!

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