Eight Seasonal Shopping Tips for a more Joyful Festive Period

    Man with child holding Christmas tree
    Published: 8 December 2020. Written by: Jo Usmar

    Make your cash go further this festive season – because, sadly, money doesn’t grow on trees…

    Let’s not beat around the holly bush:the 2020 holiday season is going to be a very different affair from what we’re used to. Needless to say, everyone’s festivities are going to be quieter, less raucous and less spendy. 

    Indeed, this year festive spending in the six-week run-up to 25 December is forecast to drop by a whopping £9.7bn compared to 2019, due to the second lockdown, with 62% of shoppers saying they’re going to cut back

    But, just because our purse strings are drawn a little tighter this year, it doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice festive cheer. These 8 tips will help limit the pressure of spending while still spreading joy. 

    1. Register with cashback websites 

    Cashback websites such as Quidco and TopCashback pass on the commissions they earn from retailers when customers click through from their site. So, instead of visiting an online brand directly, going through sites like these could net you hundreds of pounds a year against purchases you would have made anyway. 

    2. Budget with a gift organiser app  

    If you’re someone who jots down present ideas on random Post-it Notes never to be seen again, then a shopping gift organiser app will be your lifeline this holiday season. Free apps such as Giftster, Santa’s Bag and Christmas List keep track of what you’re buying for whom, sync the list across platforms, share it with significant others, and even find shops stocking what you’re after. Most importantly, though, they monitor your budget, warning you when you’re reaching your limit. 

    3. Start new (less spenny) traditions

    Just because you’ve always bought Uncle Roger a £50 bottle of whisky doesn’t mean you have to forever. This is the perfect year to suggest changing up expensive traditions. 

    Cognitive behavioural therapist Claire Luchford advises on the best approach: ‘Discuss the change with everyone first and in lots of time (ie now) so no one feels out of the loop or out of pocket. Consider suggesting swapping in something else as an alternative, like asking everyone to bring a homemade dish, card or game instead of presents. And, most importantly, connect the holiday to a deeper meaning. This year has made us think about our connections to each other like never before. So instead of gifts, maybe suggest everyone share what they’ve missed about each other, or a funny or poignant photo or story.’ 

    4. Spend your money or time on a worthwhile cause instead

    What can be savvier than spending your time and money this year on good causes? Crisis has many options for volunteering (either in person or via sponsorship) to help the homeless community, while you can donate a children’s gift parcel (£15) or a dinner parcel (£25) to Refuge, the charity that helps women and children fleeing domestic abuse. You can also help to tackle loneliness by becoming a ‘Call Companion’ with Re-engage

    5. Support local businesses and independent makers

    Channel a feel-good factor by shopping at an independent retailer who’ll really appreciate your business right now. Online book marketplaces Hive and Bookshop.org only source titles from independent bookshops, while selling platform Etsy hosts original creators. 

    Also, your fave local shop or restaurant may do some form of takeaway or click and collect service this year, so Google them before defaulting to bigger brands. 

    6. Not giving can actually be a great gift…

    …while kind, giving gifts can actually make people feel pressured to return the gesture. ‘People feel obliged to give gifts to others that they know they won’t use, with money they don’t have, and cause themselves stress they don’t need,’ Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert.com says. ‘To fulfil an obligation we do tit-for-tat giving, which can actually misprioritise people’s finances and create a financial burden.’ He recommends making a ‘Pre-NUPP’ (Pre-Festive Season No Unnecessary Present Pact) with extended family members you’d normally buy nonsense for. ‘Sometimes the best gift is releasing others from the obligation of having to give to you,’ he says. 

    7. Sell your clutter 

    Whether it’s books, DVDs (really, you still have them?), music or clothes, research shows the average Brit is sitting on £1,600-worth of unused items. A clearout will not only ease your mind and make more space, but net you some cash for your shopping in return. Check out our article here, packed with tips for getting the best deal

    8. Do fun free stuff instead 

    Pinterest is the place to go for crafty decoration ideas, while our recipe section provides step-by-step guides to creating delicious cocktails and festive treats with everyday ingredients. Going for a walk is proven to help mental health (and it’s free!) as is social connection. So book in games or quizzes via video calls with family and friends. 

    Find out more about overhauling your money habits here.

    As a Vitality member, you could get up to 3% cashback on the Vitality American Express® Credit Card when you stay active. You must have both a VitalityHealth and VitalityLife plan to be eligible. Representative 32.3% APR Variable. Subject to approval. Terms apply. Log in to Member Zone for the details.