Why it's never too early to start buying your Christmas presents

P.E.I. may be just getting over a heat wave, but while many Islanders have the beach and barbecue on their minds, Liz MacKay says it's never too early to start thinking about something else.

Forget the beach — for some, it's time to go Christmas shopping

Buying your Christmas gifts now will help you avoid the stress last-minute shoppers can feel, says Liz MacKay. (Shutterstock)

P.E.I. may be just getting over a heat wave, but while many Islanders have the beach and barbecue on their minds, Liz MacKay says it's never too early to start thinking about something else.

Christmas shopping.

"It's only less than 20 weeks away now, so it's time to be thinking about it," said MacKay, the frugal columnist for CBC's Mainstreet P.E.I.

Before you groan, check out these reasons it's not such a bad idea.

More thoughtful gifts

You have time to really put some thought into your gifts, MacKay says.

"It's much easier to start looking for deals on them and figure out the special gifts you want to give them instead of just what's being marketed toward you."

There's also time to figure out where and how you will get those gifts, instead of waiting until the holiday rush.

"There's not all that stress that comes at Christmas time when all of a sudden you need to buy all these presents and you don't know where you're going to go or what you're going to get and you're all in a frenzy."

Liz MacKay says if you start your Christmas shopping early, it's a good idea to make a detailed list. (Submitted by Liz MacKay)

It's convenient

While you're out shopping for back-to-school supplies, pick up a few stocking stuffers along the way. Or maybe a gift for your child's teachers. Many school supplies are on sale now, and since you're out anyway ….

There may be more selection, too, because some stores that are open now may not be open in December, MacKay adds.

Easier on the budget

If you don't feel like buying the presents, you can at least start budgeting for them, MacKay says. Maybe put aside a little bit from each paycheck.

"Then it's not like this huge chunk of change that's going to come out in November and December."

Time for homemade gifts

Starting early not only gives you more time to build or knit something, you can also take advantage of the season.

Berries, for example.

"If you're making jam, it's a good time to start thinking of those types of gifts for neighbours or people that you have in your life that might like something homemade like that."

Free shipping

Many people are travelling now on vacation or heading off to university, so if you have a present that needs to go a certain destination, and if you or somebody you know is travelling to that destination, why not pack the present, too?

"It can help you that way to avoid shipping costs," MacKay says.

While MacKay says planning ahead is never a bad idea, she does have a few words of caution for those who start their Christmas shopping in August.

Tastes — and clothing sizes — can change from August to December, especially for children. So be careful about buying a fad gift that in a few months may be out of style.

MacKay says it's also a good idea to make a list, not just of what you bought and you they're for, but also where you hid them.

"I found a gift probably about a month after Christmas and I was 'Oh my goodness, that's where I put that!'"

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