If you haven’t bought your Christmas gifts yet, be afraid, be very afraid. You’re at risk of spending your final week before the holidays being elbowed in the face by other desperate shoppers on Orchard Road, grabbing at overpriced gifts you’re not even sure your recipients will like.
If you don’t want to spend your entire bonus on Christmas gifts and wish to minimise your time in the trenches, oops, we mean at shopping malls, follow these tips for a pain-free Christmas season.
Pick the right credit card to spend with
If you’re the sort of person who feels the need to buy Christmas gifts for every single person in your life, from the pantry auntie at the office to your kids’ tuition teachers, you’re going to be spending a boatload of cash, so pick a credit card that rewards you for retail spending. We like the following:
- If you plan to buy gifts both online and off, the OCBC FRANK credit card gives you 6% rebates on online shopping, provided you spend at least $400 offline.
- The ANZ Optimum World MasterCard credit card gives you 5% cashback on shopping at a cap of $600 per transaction, but with no limit to how many transactions you can make and earn 5% from.
- To keep things simple, use the American Express True Cashback card, which gives you 1.5% cash rebate on all spending, no questions asked.
Come up with gift ideas before you leave home
Not planning in advance what to buy is a recipe for disaster. I’ve spent enough years racing desperately through Takashimaya and Paragon trying to find appropriate gifts as shops closed around me. Believe me, knowing what to buy before you actually get it will save several days of your life.
So many retailers maintain online catalogues these days that you can see practically every product on earth without actually stepping into a shop. If you want to get something for your kids, look through the Toys R Us catalogue before you turn up at the outlet at Forum the Shopping Mall or simply buy online and save yourself the trip.
Even if you don’t plan to buy your gifts online, it helps to have a vague idea of what to get someone before you leave the house. For instance, if you’re buying a gift for a fashionista friend, you’ll want to hit chic boutiques like Rockstar by Soon Lee, rather than go to Funan DigitaLife Mall, which would be a more appropriate location to source for a gift for a tech geek.
Decide where to shop and plan your route
If you despise wandering aimlessly along Orchard Road as much as I do, you’ll want to craft a detailed plan of attack in order to save time. Take your list of gift ideas and then look for retailers that carry what you’re looking for, preferably all located in the same area.
Don’t assume you’ll necessarily find everything on Orchard Road, either. If you live in the west, malls at Jurong East like Westgate, JEM and IMM are becoming increasingly eclectic and contain retail stores like Kate Spade Saturday, Coach, Tokyu Hands, H&M, Topshop and Yankee Candle. You might even be able to avoid heading to the city altogether.
If you work in the CBD, you might also be able to pick up a few gifts during lunchtime or after work. Chic stationery store Prints has an outlet at Raffles Place MRT, while the Club Street, Amoy Street and Telok Ayer areas are home to countless boutiques like Willow & Huxley. Get all your shopping done during working hours and you can free up your evenings for less stressful endeavours.
Don’t forget to budget
Santa Claus may not publicly announce an annual budget, but there’s a reason you never got that pony you begged for as a kid.
Never, ever Christmas shop without a budget unless you want to return home with a Ferrari for your 18-year-old son.
A per-person budget tends to be easier to follow than a total budget for all gifts. Just add up all the amounts you’re willing to spend on each person and see if the total amount is reasonable to you.
While spending $30 on a Christmas gift for a colleague might sound reasonable when you’re at the counter about to pay up, if you do the math you might realise that you can’t possibly spend $30 per person when you’ve got a team of 20.
Budgeting in advance might lead to your colleagues all getting homemade cookies for Christmas instead, but at least you won’t need to downgrade your HDB flat to pay for their Christmas cheer.
What’s your Christmas shopping strategy this year? Tell us in the comments!