parents panel

Parents Panel: When's the best time to start Christmas shopping?

Is there ever a way to do it right? We asked our panel of mums and dads to weigh in.

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AS PART OF’s weekly Family Magazine, we wanted to create a space for parents to share their views. A place where mums and dads could share their experiences, lessons learned, and even mistakes along the way. 

Ticking off Santa’s list, keeping gifts away from prying eyes, and the annual panic to find the one toy *everyone* seems to want this year… Christmas shopping becomes an endurance test once kids are in the picture.

So is there a way to do it right? We asked our panel for their thoughts.

When’s the best time to start Christmas shopping?

Here’s what they had to say…

Parents Panel All 7 Top L-R: Olly Keegan, Alan Dooley, Denise, Ken Hyland. Middle L-R: Ríona Flood, Ross Boxshall, Marta Lisiecka, Denise Cumiskey. Bottom L-R: Kait Quinn, Susannah O’Brien, Derek McInerney, Suzie Kelly

The January sales, if you can manage it: In this house, we’re organized. My wife is a Christmas machine! If it was left to me, it could be, but she is on the ball and starts sometimes in the sales of the previous Christmas. For the big presents, if they are generic things they are sure to like, they could be bought in June or July.  But work really starts in about August/September so as to guide potential Santa lists. Moods and interests change with the wind (and whatever TV show is being watched), so we guide everyone in the direction of what has been bought. It usually works out well. This is the first year we have had a child who “knows the deal” with Santa, so it’s one less person we have to guide in the right direction.

- Alan Dooley

We’re not doing any this year (well, not for Charlie): Charlie received so many gifts for his birthday in early November that we decided not do any Christmas shopping for him this year. He really doesn’t need anything now in another 6 weeks time. We’ll try to spread things out better next year, and I suspect we’ll get organised in October/November. We must coordinate with grandparents going forward to make sure he’s not getting too much. Maybe we could all pitch in on one gift or something like that.

- Kait Quinn 

shutterstock_2287351 Shutterstock / pryzmat Shutterstock / pryzmat / pryzmat

November works for me: I usually start in late November or early December especially because I have loads of kids in the family to buy for. This year, I was due my second child in mid November so I wanted to have everything done and dusted beforehand. I had 80% done by the beginning of November.

- Marta Lisiecka

As soon as you can figure out what they want… start: I bought one of his gifts last February at an 80% discount! We start Christmas shopping as soon as we have an idea what our son would like. As he is only four we are still at a stage where we can “assist” with his requests from Santa and can start shopping somewhat early. He has spoken about 2 definite things he is asking Santa for, but he will only be getting one of them – along with a surprise.

- Olly Keegan

90321425_90321425 Dublin's Grafton St at Christmas. Sam Boal / Rolling Sam Boal / Rolling / Rolling

I start the small stuff in January, to save money in December: I hope no one jumps down my throat over this but I start my Christmas shopping in the January sales. I do this every year as I have over twenty people to buy for before I even start on my own kids. With Ellie Mae still being young she is into everything so I pick up bits and pieces for her throughout the year.  The older kids (22 and 17) are a nightmare. I have to get everyone else shopped for during the year so I can have the money saved for them. There is always a new phone, new technology, concert tickets, something that costs a small fortune.

- Denise Cumiskey

Whenever you start, shop with military precision: We don’t have a set start date but my wife travels away a lot and uses her limited spare time for ‘extreme Christmas retailing’. This is planned and executed with a route map that minimises excessive walking and carrying! She even buys some of the presents for the kids to give to us both. The children are urged to request ‘a surprise’ from Santa, which can make the present(s) just that, a surprise.

- Ross Boxshall

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More Parents Panel: What’s the strangest thing on your child’s Santa list?>

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