Thursday, 17 November 2016

My tips to make Christmas shopping easier

That's it.  It's officially less than six weeks until Christmas. I've still got nearly everything to buy. Yes, I'm busy and yes, I do tend to leave things to the last minute.  But the reality is that shopping with my kids and for my kids is difficult.  Surely even the happiest of shoppers have some sort of dread about the idea of dragging kids and family members around ever increasingly busy venues, in the run up to the happiest day of the year? No pressure there then.

When you have a family that's 2/5th autistic, it can be... more difficult. The boys are anxious around new people and places.  Lights in the stores can be blinding and the tannoy or Christmas music can make feel like they are standing next to a freight train.  Our younger son doesn't understand the difference between the toys on shelves at school and the toys lined up in a shop. Why can't he take them out of the boxes?  Why can't he play with them all? Why are we putting some in the trolley?   That's not right, is it?

True, our difficulties aren't the same as everyone, but I remember pushing a buggy around a department store.  It was so busy I thought it wise to grab the baby and abandon the buggy at several points. The only use the buggy had was doubling as some sort of trolley in a store where you couldn't have one because, let's face it, there simply wasn't room.  And I could never find what I wanted.  I'd reserve items and then stand around like a loose limb near a counter with a queue out the door.  Then when finally served I'd find that despite having reserved online there was a stock data error and they didn't actually have one.  They were going to call to tell me, but were too busy.

But, I still want to do the Christmas shopping. I want to see the gorgeous smile on my kids faces at Christmas.  I want them too experience what they can and want to.

So like many others I figure out what works for me:

1.  I shop online - a lot.  All most exclusively in fact.  Everything from the crackers to the selection packs. I'm a serial online cereal purchaser.  I've been doing my weekly shop online for as long as I can remember.  I'll get deliveries or click and collect - anything that means I don't have to go into the supermarket.  There is the odd time when I buy six packs of six bananas instead of just six, but all in all, it's been worth it.  Buying online gets rid of the stressful environment and once you are use to it, browsing online is no different and in some ways better than browsing through a store.

baby at laptop

2. I try and have a good idea of what I'm shopping for.  I not only buy online, I research there too. This way I can target my purchases;  I don't just want a toy kitchen, I want a wooden one that will fit in Jane's room for example. Being specific means I can make decisions faster and it means there's less chance of disappointment.

Kids with autism can sometimes find presents more enjoyable when they know what they are getting. I once knew someone who wrapped her kids presents in cellophane - be in no doubt they were just an excited.  So if I've got something specific to get it works for all of us.  Even so, sometimes I get it wrong.  It's good that many shops have extended the returns period over Christmas, I try and check when I buy what the returns process is so I'm not stuck with unwanted gifts.

3. If I want to window shop,  I shop when it's quieter.  Toys R Us did an autism friendly shopping day a few weeks ago and this would have been ideal had I been near a Toys R Us or had any idea what I was shopping for at the time.  Mid-morning, mid week is OK in some places.  I dare not venture into a shop at the weekend unless I have to - and then I try and go early.

sale sign

4. I try to take advantage of online sales.  One of the things I used to spend too much time doing was looking for the best bargain.  I've decided what I want and then spend hours looking everywhere for it online.  It's stressful and time consuming at a time of the year when I'm already trying to fit in attending a Christmas concert and making a reindeer costume. Thankfully we have past the time of having to wait for Boxing Day for the sales.  So I have a look to see when my favourite retailers have their pre-festive sale. As I know what I'm looking for and how much it usually costs I can look for it during the sale. Some sites also run pre-sale offers too which can be helpful.  The other thing I look out for is a 'last chance' delivery date, when I need to have ordered by. Nothing worse than Christmas presents arriving on the 27th.

What do you suggest to make shopping easier for Christmas?

This post is in collaboration with Halfords. 
Halfords are hosting a Black Friday Sale online as well as in store this year on Friday the 25th November.  There are offers in the run up to the sale and they are running a Black Friday Online Competition 
to win up to £3000 of goods from the store. 
All that's needed is to register on the site and answer a competition question to be included in the draw.  
Click here to enter the competition or for further details.

I contacted the Halfords customer services team and they confirmed that 
Christmas returns could be made up till the 28th January - thank you!  
If you have any concerns or questions you can contact their customer service team here


  1. I love a good online sale!! #EatSleepBlogRT

  2. Online shopping makes everything easier. Crowds are so overwhelming. I went to a store the other day and they had a sale, but it was so overwhelming I could feel my anxiety getting on top of me. I felt hot and closed in it was horrible. Love your tips #eatsleepblogRT

  3. Some fantastic tips here. I find shopping online so much easier! We missed out on the light switch on this year but it was just too much so we watched the fireworks from our living room! #MarvMondays

  4. Online shopping ALL the way. I have it all planned before I start to 'shop' and then I search for the cheapest deal. 123pricecheck is a brilliant site!
    I've finally started and with having my little ones birthday the week before Christmas it's important to be slightly organised. I reserved a load of stuff last night and hubs is off to collect most of it tonight. That will be little mans birthday and Christmas pretty much sorted. Just everyone else's to go. I really couldn't do it without online. I hate going shopping. Far too stressful! #marvmondays

  5. I online shop as much as I can too. #marvmondays

  6. I online shop as much as I can too. #marvmondays

  7. YES! To all of your tips! I'm a firm believer in shopping online as much as I can, as I hate battling the hoards of people at the stores - too stressful. Thanks for sharing!

  8. The internet is my lifesaver. I don't know how parents coped before it. #marvmondays

  9. I've done all my shopping online this year, and either had it delivered or click and collected. I'm also planning on doing the food shop online for the first time this year, and already my Christmas is a lot less stressful. One trip to a very large, busy shopping centre with the husband and baby in tow has been enough for me this year! #MarvMondays

  10. Its all about the online shopping here - I am hoping to do it all online this year! #Eatsleepblogrt


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