COME January, most of us will breathe a sigh of relief. Isn’t it great to take a break from the month of madness?
Not everyone thinks so – and some festive fanatics who are prepping for the festivities in the New Year.
Here, Yasmin Harisha speaks to three ultra-organised women who make sure they get Christmas all wrapped up . . . in January.
Paula, 50, shops the day after Christmas
PAULA LLEWELLYN, 50, lives with her husband John, 61, in Barnsley. She goes on a shopping frenzy immediately after Christmas Day each year and has her gifts wrapped and locked away at a friend’s house by the end of January. The personal manager will buy for her children Asa, 23, Apolliana, 21, and Arista, 18, plus her grandson Oscar, two, and her husband. Paula says:
"WHEN I first became a mum, I decided to do Christmas shopping in January to save money. Now it has become an obsession. The Boxing Day sales were always a tradition in my family and when I had my own children, I kept it up.
"I sign up for the post-Christmas sales emails so I know when they all start.
"I get up at 5am on Boxing Day, have a fry-up and hit the shops.
"I’m always the first in the queue and I empty the shelves.
"My kids know their presents are bought before the Christmas decorations are taken down. They tell me I am bonkers. And John knows to stay out of my way because I am a woman on a mission. "But they all agree my planning ensures they get amazing gifts.
"I have a spreadsheet and a list on my phone of items my kids like. And they love designer labels. I also buy for their partners, close relatives and friends. Debenhams is my first stop.
"I clear the shelves of half-price wrapping paper, ribbons and Christmas cards.
"I’ll grab trolley-loads of half-price decorations to make sure I have enough for the tree and house. I spend about £400 and buy high-quality half-price ornaments.
"Then I’ll whip round Next, River Island and Topshop, grabbing half-priced Christmas socks, pyjamas, scarves and jewellery. Then it’s the toy stores for Oscar.
"I spend £1,500 on each of the children, £1,000 on Oscar, £1,000 on John and £800 on my kids’ partners.
"It may seem like a lot but I get three or four times the amount at better value.
"As soon as I get the presents, I wrap them and ship them off to my friend’s house to hide away.
"Then I relax and spend the year saving up for my next post-Christmas spree. No one likes a rushed Christmas."
Renu, 40, hunts out bargains in January
Renu Bhardwaj, 39, hunts out bargains in January
RENU BHARDWAJ, 40, an apprenticeship account manager, lives with her husband Neeraj, 42, an e-learning manager, and their children Arran, seven, and Ariya, five, in Glasgow. Renu spends her lunch breaks in January scouring the stores to track down the best deals for Christmas 11 months later. Renu says:
"January is the best time to buy all your essentials and presents. I am a super-organised person.
"I have budget calendars to make sure I stay on top of things. I have both sides of the family to buy for, which is usually around ten people. I will spend roughly £300 altogether.
"I buy everything for next year’s Christmas, including wrapping paper, decorations and advent calendars, as well as Christmas pyjamas, jumpers and all the gifts.
"It can make January quite a challenge, as I spend my lunch hours scouring shops to get the best deals. It isn’t very relaxing. I often shop online and I love the “click and collect” options.
"It has made my job so much easier and I can arrange to collect my goodies after work or on lunch.
"It can be dangerous, though, as it’s too easy to keep spending.
"I have picked up some real bargains for presents for myself and family before.
"Once, I managed to get a designer handbag in Selfridges for £450 that was reduced from £1,450. I just think of the long term and how relaxed I will be in December.
"I do love a great deal and they are there to be bought, at the end of the day.
"Then I will store them all in the loft because I have learnt that if I leave them anywhere else, I will just forget about them.
"I reckon I usually manage to save around 70 per cent of my money when I shop in January.
"But it is pretty tempting, buying-wise, because my work is based in the city centre, which means I am constantly shopping during my breaks.
"But yes, friends and family will laugh at me for being so organised with my Christmas shopping."
Jenny, 46, buys all her presents in January
JENNY HOLDEN, 46, a PR consultant, lives with her husband and their twins Ed and James, nine, in Lichfield, Staffs. Jenny is proud of being super-sorted with her Christmas shopping. She says:
"I am ridiculously organised. I buy all of my Christmas gifts and birthday presents in January, then store them on the top shelf of my walk-in wardrobe.
"I’m known for being organised by friends, colleagues and family.
"I just like to get it all sorted as close to the beginning of the year as possible.
"Other people roll their eyes at me when they see me getting shopping bags out of the car in January.
"They probably think I’m smug but I just want to live the easy life and get sorted.
"It feels good knowing I don’t have to worry about anything for the rest of the year.
"I spend at least £500 and I reckon I save around £1,000.
"I buy for my parents, grandparents, eight of my nieces and nephews and, of course, my husband and kids. It saves me time in the long run. It’s a job ticked off the list.
"I shop everywhere and anywhere, online and the high street.
"I always tell friends to not fall for the big red “sale” signs. Shop around first. These places know what they are doing and sale items aren’t always cheaper.
"I don’t tend to start until the frenzy of the sales rush has died down and there’s a calmer atmosphere in the shops.
"I keep my planner with me at all times and I write everything down in there.
"I love a list and it helps me keep track of what I have purchased.
"I do like to save some things until Christmas time, like the wrapping part.
"Our tree will go up in the last weekend of November and that is when I will begin wrapping the presents, with a glass of wine and Christmas music playing in the background.
"I love it. I do this all so I can enjoy December for what it is. I don’t want the stresses and strains of buying. Doing it this way, the financial pressure doesn’t hit me."
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