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7 secrets of people who do their Christmas shopping early

Save money, time, and avoid the stress!

Almost everyone struggles with Christmas shopping. No matter what happens, it always feels like the best days of summer are spent locked in shopping malls, making bad, stress-filled decisions in an attempt to leave as quickly as possible.
But what happens if you don't wait until December 1 to get organised?
Here are seven tips from people who know how to get organised for Christmas - and do it early:
Make a list - now
Find your phone, or diary, or scrap of paper and start writing. Make a list of everyone will need to buy a gift for, from those closest to you to your child's teacher, the person looking after your pets while you are on holiday, and your next door neighbour. That way, you know exactly who you are shopping for, and the temptation to impulse buy is reduced when you eventually hit the shops.
Budget early
Now you know who - and how many - you are shopping for, set a dollar value for each person, and try to stick to it. If you build this extra spending into your November budget, as well as your December budget, the shock to the bank account won't be quite so concentrated. The same rule applies if you start picking up the odd thing for Christmas dinner now, as well (non-perishable, of course).
Listen to friends and family
We've all wandered aimlessly around shopping malls in the weeks leading up to Christmas, at a complete loss as to what aunt Jean really wants this year. So next time you talk to her, listen to what she talks about, and add any ideas to that list you've made. Then, start hunting out sales to get a really good bargain.
Yes, really pay attention
Want to buy everyone matching Christmas jandals? You can be much more subtle about finding out your family's sizes earlier in the year than a week before Santa's due to visit. Once you have the info, put it in that list - which is starting to look pretty useful now, right?
Buy in bulk
Think about it; rather than buying all those periphery people (see: dog sitter/neighbour) a bottle of wine each, why not pick up a case of something classic instead. By splitting that up, you'll save time (and money) and when unexpected guests turn up bearing gifts, you won't be scrambling for something to give them.
Give yourself a deadline
Let's pretend Christmas Day has actually moved to November 25. With you list fleshed out it's definitely possible you can get all your shopping done a whole month early. Just think how smug you'll feel when everyone else is playing bumper cars at the local mall in December!
Get it in the post
And, after all that planning and preparation, there is nothing worse than the feeling that comes with missing the final Christmas post dates if you have gifts and cards to send overseas.
People wanting to send cards and presents overseas in time for Christmas by International Air will need to post them by December 7 for Australia, December 2 for the South Pacific, Asia, North America, UK and Europe, and November 30 for the rest of the world. There are later deadlines for International Courier and International Express Courier services in early and mid-December.
For domestic mail, the cut off is December 20 for standard Post, ParcelPost and ParcelPost Tracked. FastPost, Courier Parcel and Courier and Signature Parcel products need to be sent by December 22.
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