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Hear us out – starting your Christmas shopping now rather than later could help you to save in the long run. And anything to avoid the hordes of crowds, repetitive Christmas music and endless traffic jams has to be a bonus, right? So you’re prepared for the festive season, here are our top tips*:

Buy your presents now

According to new research, the cost of Christmas last year averaged at around £469 per person. That’s quite an expense to budget for all in one go, so spreading the cost of this out over a longer period of time (and a few more paydays) could help to soften the blow, especially when it comes to buying gifts.

We know you probably won’t be able to get every item off of your list this early on, but there are a few things that you can start picking up. Most stores have their end-of-summer-sales on at the moment, so now is a pretty good time to pick up a few fashionable bits and bobs. For example, this girls top and leggings set from H&M would make a great stocking filler or you could pick up this cotton shirt for the man in your life!

When it comes to toys, you’re probably thinking that you’re going to have to wait a little longer to pick these up – but not necessarily! Believe it or not, Argos and Hamleys have already released their top toys lists for the year and here are some of the most hotly tipped:

• My Friend Freddy, Amazon, £29.19

• Thunderbirds Interactive Tracy Island, Amazon, £77.99

Just make sure when you’re buying early that you’re sure of your purchases, as you won’t be able to take advantage of the extended returns policies given around Christmas. You should still ask for a gift receipt for the goods, so that the person you’re gifting them to can at least try to return them for store credit if they’re no good.

Plan for shopping events

You should factor certain shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday into your present buying schedule. Discount days like these mark the beginning of the festive shopping season and last year caused a major frenzy in the UK – so be prepared!

Black Friday sees many stores slash their prices by up to 70 per cent and Cyber Monday sees similar discounts online. Make a note of the following dates in your calendar: November 27th (Black Friday) and November 30th (Cyber Monday).

Although they’re more of an American tradition, a lot of the big UK retailers have now embraced these sales, with Amazon, John Lewis, Asda and Tesco all jumping on board. In particular, these sales can be great for buying electrical goods like TVs or tablets, but these can be the most sought-after items so be prepared to get up early!

In order to spend this Christmas you’ll have to save beforehand – if you’d like a little help with this take a look at our guide.

*Prices correct at time of writing – 21/09/15

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