How to Make Festive Shopping Fun

I know it's easy to order all your festive gifts, decor and even your tree online, but there's something about crisp air, cheesy Christmas music and, if you are lucky, the chance of a cheeky mulled drink which really brings this season alive if you'd only venture outdoors.

Woman drinking drink outside with background of festive lights:Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

There are so many options to make festive shopping easier and more enjoyable and if you are clever you can combine the excitement of admiring displays, actually seeing and handling potential purchases with the convenience of home delivery at many stored. 

Even stallholders at pop-up Christmas markets will often have websites you can order from but there's something rather special about bundling bagfuls of lovingly chosen gifts home to stash away until the big day.

Festive shopping gift bags:Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

So where are the best places to go shopping during the festive season? And how can you avoid long traffic queues and crowded stores? How can you make Christmas chores festively fun?

Late Night Shopping

Most malls and High Streets plan late night shopping evenings in the run up to Christmas. You can generally expect to see shops open until 8 or even 9 pm. Check online or look out for posters to see what evenings have extended opening hours.

There's something special about late night shopping with brightly lit window displays, festive lights and the chance to enjoy a post-shopping supper somewhere nice. 

Photo by Dean Xavier on Unsplash

Check out displays and shop windows created by people who are trained in window display design for inspo for your own festive decor. A look at just a few professionally-created displays will give you a good idea of what is hot this season. (Have you noticed all the baby pink this year?). Some well known stores produce some truly magical window displays which are well worth a visit - famous ones include Harrods, Fortnum and Mason, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and John Lewis.

Parking is often discounted for these special evenings or if you are lucky it might even be free! If you can't face shopping after work, why not go early in the morning ready to hit the shops as they open. Even at the weekend you'll probably get a good hour of quieter cooler shops with staff who haven't yet been broken by demanding customers and relentless Christmas music.

Christmas Markets

German style Christmas markets are popping up all over the place nowadays and they are amongst my favourite places to browse. These markets are usually situated in town and city centres so you have all the convenience of the regular stores with the chance to pick up some unique gifts and decor and maybe even a curry wurst sausage and cream-topped hot chocolate too!

Now. Hear me out. Did you know that coach travel is not just for students and old people. I've booked a coach trip to Bath Christmas market this year with a bunch of friends and here's why.

  • Coach travel often works out cheaper than buying fuel for your private vehicle, especially when you factor in parking.
  • Avoids driving round and round searching for that last elusive parking space.
  • You can indulge in a mulled wine or two without worrying about driving under the influence.

Big City Trip

I absolutely adore a big city trip when the streets and stores are transformed for the festive season. London is my nearest big city but depending where you are in the UK you could head to Birmingham, Brighton, Manchester, Edinburgh, Cardiff..... so many amazing places.

Harrods, London:Photo by James Healy on Unsplash

It might seem daunting heading off to an unfamiliar destination so consider booking train tickets  and maybe even a hotel so you can relax arriving ready to be wowed by sparkling, twinkling, mesmerising displays. With a bit of luck there might be additional festive events organised to really get you in the mood. 

I spend quite a bit of time in the city and I know some people are worried about visiting, especially when it's likely to be busy. My top tips would be to dress normally, not like you are hiking up a mountain (You can spot a tourist with their front worn backpacks a mile away in London.) 

Wear comfortable shoes and make sure you have enough data to download a map and transport apps. My London Underground applets me from A-B with no effort and in my opinion, looking like you know where you are going means you don't stand out as a potential victim.

Make it fun

Christmas shopping is much more fun with a friend or family member. We all have at least one friend who we find it easy to shop with. This is especially important if you are hoping to pick up an outfit for festive events. 

Throw yourself into the spirit of Christmas  - wear a silly Yuletide jumper or a ridiculous elf hat. Maybe some Christmassy earrings? At the very least you might make a harassed shop employee smile.

Woman wearing Christmas jumper and mask holding food and drink: Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Build in breaks and refuel with a mince pie or festive sandwich. I once spent a happy December comparing Festive food offerings at a variety of supermarkets and cafes with a friend. Nowadays my children like to try out all the flavoured coffees being touted as festive. Although you'd be hard pushed to beat a gingerbread latte in my eyes.

If your shopping is all about gifts for everyone else make sure you throw in at least one little treat for yourself. You deserve it!