It’s not even mid-February and an army of bargain hunters have pretty much wrapped up their Christmas shopping for 2021 (in more ways than one).
There’ll be no last minute dashes to the petrol station on Christmas Eve for this lot. More than 40 weeks before the big day, they’ve bought dozens – or in some cases, hundreds – of gifts for their families. And some have even wrapped them.
Tracey Drew, 50, from Bristol is one of them. She started on Boxing Day, and has bought gifts for her six children, three stepchildren and six grandchildren. “I’ve always done my Christmas shopping early – well most of it,” she tells HuffPost UK. “I’m a bargain hunter so I always buy in advance in the sales.”
Drew’s cupboards are bulging with tonnes of presents, including Yankee candles, toys, novelty cushions, makeup, perfume and jewellery. On top of this, she’s also bought hundreds of gifts for the children at the school where she works – and has wrapped each and every one.
Last year, Drew, who works in a primary school kitchen, bought every child in the school – that’s 379 kids – a Christmas present. Some companies helped – Tesco donated vouchers and Lidl donated tubs of Quality Street – but Drew and her crew of kitchen staff did the rest.
“I dressed as Santa and visited each class to hand out presents,” she says. “It’s something we’ve decided to do every year.”
Fast forward to 2021 and Drew has, so far, wrapped 124 presents. “Only yesterday another parcel from The Works arrived, so I’m going to be wrapping those next week,” she adds, admitting they still need to buy more.
Saving money and reducing stress are her key motivations for being organised. “It’s cheaper to get presents now,” says Drew, who puts her decorations up in September, “although I also buy items in the summer sales for Christmas.”
There are many more people like Drew on the All About Christmas Facebook group, where thousands share their love of the festive season all year round.
Katrina Lapton, a member from Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, is also ahead of the curve, having bought for all her children and grandchildren. Her children are all older now, but she still loves buying gifts for them. “I’m so glad I started early,” she says. Jen Burns, has bought all hers, too, but hasn’t wrapped them yet. “I want to wrap before they go in the loft,” she says, “but I can’t find anywhere to buy Christmas paper!”
Tina Brown, 55, from Alfreton in Derbyshire, says doing Christmas shopping early is “stress-free” and cheaper – “all the sales are on and you can get some brilliant bargains,” she tells HuffPost UK.
“I find buying early is stress-free and cheaper”
Buying everything early makes Christmas – and the build up to the big day – a lot more enjoyable, adds Brown. “I start Christmas shopping as soon as Christmas is over and have done for a number of years now. I try to get most of my shopping done by the end of January.”
Brown always starts by buying presents for her 10 grandchildren. She tells me she’s bought 75 so far, which includes all of her grandchildren’s gifts and some for three of her children, too.
“I still have my husband, one son, son-in-law and daughter-in-law to buy for,” she admits. But she’ll keep an eye out for deals and sales throughout the year. “You can’t go wrong with buying Lego, books and games for Christmas as they never go out of fashion,” she adds, “also perfumes and aftershaves.”
Brown has started wrapping the gifts, but hasn’t done it all just yet.
Where on earth do they store all of these presents? Brown stashes all of her goodies inside her ottoman bed “which is a great hiding place,” she adds.
Some hide theirs in their loft space, while others opt for the airing cupboard. Any nook and cranny that’s free and tucked away is, often, piled high with gifts.
Drew has been able to keep all the presents for the school children at school and the ones for her family are squirrelled away at home, ready to be dusted off come December.
“It’s lucky I have a spare bedroom,” she adds.
You’re reading Covid-Free Zone, a section designed to offer a little respite during the pandemic. For more fun and escapism, browse the articles here.