I'm a gift expert – 4 hacks to save time and money this Christmas including the ‘3×4 method’ you must follow | The Sun
29th September 2023

WHILE it might seem as though Christmas is ages away, considering how fast the year has gone so far, we’re sure the big day will be here before you know it.

And with money tight for many up and down the country, why not get ahead of your Christmas shopping now?

If you want to save yourself money and time this festive season, luckily for you – you’ve come to the right place.

No doubt the mere thought of tackling Christmas shopping is stressing Brits out.

In fact, according to a recent survey, the most anxiety-inducing festive activities for Brits are thinking about what Christmas presents to buy (46% say it’s stressful), how much it costs to buy them (45%) and having to shop for them in the first place (44%).

With this in mind, we spoke to gift expert and co-founder of countdown calendar SevenYays, Charlotte Staal, who has revealed her top tips to make your Christmas shopping much easier.

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She explained: “Some people like to get ahead and start their Christmas shopping as early as January to take advantage of sales, but then you run the risk of buying presents kids don’t want anymore come December or seeing a more exciting gift later in the year you now don’t have the budget for.

“Instead, I’d recommend you get all your Christmas shopping done in mid October. 

“This is early enough to beat the Christmas rush, so you know the shops will be less mobbed, but it’s late enough that brands and stores will have the best of their stock out in time for November.”

Here, the gift expert has revealed the four tips you must follow if you want to ensure you stick to a budget and save yourself time before the festive season, including the ‘3×4 method’, focusing on a maximum of three shops and just four presents. 

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Choose three shops and don’t deviate

A lot of us are guilty of wandering aimlessly round shop after shop when looking for Christmas presents, but Charlotte advised shoppers to condense this into just two to three stores maximum. 

She said: “Firstly, you’ll want to make a list of all the people you’ll be buying presents for, and perhaps a rough gift idea attached to each person – such as a toy for your nephew, a candle for your sister.

“Then I’d recommend deciding on two to three stores you know you can get all of your gifts from. 

“This will massively help to limit any time wasted browsing a full high street or shopping centre with tens of shops.

“You could narrow this down to a toy store for youngsters, a supermarket with affordable chocolate goodies, and a department store that will always have something for everyone.”

Separate gifts into containers and separate bags 

Thanks to Charlotte’s simple hack, shopping for multiple people at once just got a whole lot easier.

Instead of filling your trolley to the brim with trinkets and chocolates that you’ll have to sift through when you get home, Charlotte shared her useful organisation tip.

She advised: “If you know you’re going to be buying multiple presents in one shop – such as when you’re tasked with finding stocking fillers for the kids – place bags or containers in your shopping trolley that you can use to separate out gifts.

“This allows you to keep tabs on how many gifts you’ve picked out for one person and it will also save you the hassle of having to go through the shopping and organise it into piles when you get home.”

Stick to one golden rule when buying for kids

There’s no denying that Christmas is all about the little ones. But whilst it can be tempting to go over budget and spoil your kids with all sorts of gifts, Charlotte shared the rule you must follow if you want to save money on presents.

She noted: “When it comes to shopping for kids, my husband and I tend to stick to finding ‘something to wear, something to read, something they want and something they need’.

“Capping the presents at four items will stop you from going overboard and, in turn, ensure you’re sticking to a fair budget.”

Always look for a better deal online

Finally, Charlotte stressed the importance of searching online for deals before making any purchases.

She stressed: “Before you click ‘purchase’ online, always make sure you’ve searched high and low for discount codes the website might be offering.

“My advice is to use a browser extension such as Honey which calculates any available discounts at checkout. 



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“You can also subscribe to the brand’s newsletter if you haven’t purchased from them before as they often offer a welcome discount for new customers that they’ll email to you after subscribing.”

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