The Spirit of Christmas Fair - Christmas Shopping Survival Guide
Christmas shopping is sometimes a bit of a daunting thought, so let us help take away some of the burden and enable you to enjoy this wonderful time of the year…
Why it’s good to start Christmas shopping early…
- You will have time to personalise gifts or opt for bespoke pieces which are hugely popular and on-trend at the moment
- Popular products/lines are more likely to be in stock the earlier you shop
- When you have time on your hand, you are more likely to stick to your Christmas list and can afford to be more considered about the purchases rather than feeling like you HAVE to buy an average/inpersonal gift because it is Christmas eve and you have ran out of time!
- You get to avoid the Christmas crowd and shop at your own leisure when it is less hectic and the shops are more likely to be tidier and better displayed during off-peak time.
- Have more time to soak up the festive cheer with friends pre-Christmas instead of last minute shopping which will undoubtedly be stressful
- Christmas can be an expensive time of year so the earlier that you start your present shopping, the more you can spread out the cost and budget better rather than maxing out your credit card in the week before Christmas and scrimping for a whole month until January’s pay check.
Helpful tips for your Spirit of Christmas Fair visit
- Pick up a copy of the complimentary Fair Book to help you with your bearings and find exhibitors in a certain category.
- If you are super organised, have a look at the exhibitors list and add these to your shopping list with their stand numbers.
- Why not leave your bulky handbag at home and embrace a 90s bumbag so you can shop entirely hands-free? The more arm space you have to start with, the more you can carry home at the end
- Carry plenty of business cards and pens – you’ll find that many retailers who offer up valuable competition prizes simply for filling in your details
- Leave the children at home – Christmas shopping is a serious task and requires your full attention
- Come at the beginning of the week when it is less busy
- Bring an empty suitcase so you can pop the day’s shopping in so you can wheel it all home easily or use the Shopping Drop off Service run by the Official Fair Charity, Crisis
- It’s cold outside but leave the big coat at home – wears lots of layers instead so you can take them off one-by-one to keep cool as the heat of shopping warms you up through the day
- Do consider a car-pool with fellow shoppers to split the cost of your journey home – you’ll make new friends and you get to compare your shopping successes
- If your partner is a little tighter with the purse strings, treat them to a glass of Champagne in the morning to get them into the spirit – they should hopefully be feeling a bit more generous after a glass or two. TIP: there’s three Louis Roederer Champagne Bar at the Spirit of Christmas Fair so you might want to drop by for this very purpose
- Bring along a shopping partner who is familiar with those on your to-buy list, who is also more decisive in nature. When out of ideas, you’ll have someone on hand to advise you and they’ll speed up any deliberations you might have too
First time gifting
What do you buy someone if it’s a first-time present and you’re shopping blind? What’s the etiquette, what do you buy and how much should you spend? We recommend that you ask for hints or if possible, ask someone that knows them better than you for tips.
Have an open discussion to set a budget for everyone. With friends and family who you are more likely to have exchanged Christmas gifts before, base it on historical trends and see what was spent in previous years and stick to a similar budget. For new giftees, suggest a Christmas catch up and casually drop in ‘shall we exchange gifts as well and set a limit?’
Is it OK to mirror the person who is gifting you i.e. spend on them what you think they’d spend on you – how do you do this without causing offence? Absolutely, for friends or those that have the same status as you, this removes any potential awkwardness/resentment of ‘I spent more on you, etc’. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that a young adult is likely to have less money than the older ‘empty nesters’ so it would probably be expected that you would spend more on them, in the same way that there is a tendency for parents to spend more on their children than the children on their parents.
Buying for your partner’s family
Buying for your partner’s family is extremely tricky, particularly at Christmas: you want to make a good impression all-round but your budget isn’t limitless so where do you draw the line? Take your lead from your partner. If they are purchasing gifts for particular family members, it’s probably wise to have them covered from your side too but stick to the immediate family, you really don’t need to worry about the great aunt or cousin who visits once a year. If in doubt, I would suggest getting a joint present with your partner to their parents and siblings. And if you are spending Christmas with their family, one clever trick to keep things under control is to suggest Secret Santa-style gifting, that way everybody is clear on how many gifts they need to buy, who they’re buying for, and there is no worrying about budgets! Best of all, you will forever be remembered as “the fun one”. A win all-round!
Sweetening up the boss
Now this is the only time when buying a gift could backfire. Gifting culture in workplaces tend to work best when colleagues club together and everyone is aware of who is gifting who. Singling out your boss personally with a gift on their birthday or at Christmas without the office’s knowledge would not only draw odd attention from the boss, but from your fellow colleagues too. However, if your boss is more ‘Devil Wears Prada’, then definitely buy a present and make sure that you are the teacher’s pet if you value your job!
Somebody hands you a present but you realise you’ve not gifted them anything. Awkwardness ensues. This happens a lot more often than you think! In such instances, you have two options: gratefully accept the gift but apologise emphatically about how you managed to forget their gift at home – the horror after all your time and effort, which buys you 24 hours to get a gift that lives up to the expectation.
Everybody should have a ready supply of “emergency” gifts in the event of one-sided gifting, or when you’ve simply forgotten – nobody need ever know. Look for gender-neutral gifts such as food hampers, or wines and champagnes but the key to not making it look like a last-minute supermarket buy (one of the two biggest faux pas in gifting), is to go for boutique brands, so pick some up when at shopping fairs or on holiday. And never, under any circumstances, re-gift presents you’ve been given (introducing faux pas number 2!) - these have a funny habit of making their way round to the original giver as they often tend to be used as emergency gifts in the first instance!
What about direct cash-gifting? Who is it OK to give cash to? The older Saga generation tend to do this? Perhaps give a cheque instead which means that the recipient will have to deposit the money in the bank rather than spending it on groceries or something else mundane. If you have to give cash then perhaps to go the bank to ask for a crisp note, and if giving above £50, asking for a £50 note to make it more special!
What about buying gift experiences instead of gifts? How do you choose these? Experiences are very popular at present and if you go on Lastminute.com, Opentable or Treatwell, you will be able to get discounted treatments, meals deals, experiences. Etc. Theatre experiences for the culture vultures, meal deals at some great restaurants for foodies, massages/beauty treatments for those in need of some pampering, and adventure experiences such as indoor ski-diving for those that are not faint at heart! Or annual membership to their favourite galleries. Christmas is all about giving back so you could be charitable on behalf of someone who has everything or the altruistic by buying charity gifts such as a pump for clean water or seeds to grow plants etc. Oxfam, Save the Children etc all offer these so do have a look at their website. If you want to treat that someone special to an unforgettable weekend away, don’t forget to take advantage of complimentary entry to The Luxury Travel Fair, between 3-6 November from within Spirit of Christmas Fair.
Spirit of Christmas Fair, 31 Oct – 6 Nov at Olympia London provides you with lots of wonderful ideas on what to buy your loved ones from fail safe sparkly jewellery and adorable little gifts for little people, to delicious artisan delights and of course you will always find something to treat yourself! Book your tickets here!