Five ways to reduce the cost of Christmas presents

Published by Nathalie Bonney on 15 December 2011.
Last updated on 16 December 2011

five presents

In a survey by uswitch.com, 64% of respondents say they will spend less on presents this year. However, it is possible to spend less on gifts without resorting to Poundland for that something special. Here are our top five tips:

1. INVISIBLE SHOPPER

It can sometimes be difficult to know which shop or website is the cheapest, but try using a handy online tool called Invisible Hand to help you. Rather than going to comparison websites for gifts and products, which don't tend to be terribly comprehensive, invisible hand notifies you as you're shopping online if you can buy the potential purchases for cheaper elsewhere.

A yellow alert bar appears at the top of the screen informing shoppers where else they can buy an item for cheaper. It's not 100% foolproof as it doesn't cover all the retailers but it is certainly a help. Go to its website Getinvisiblehand.com for more info and to download it.   

2. BARGAIN BEAUTY

Discount beauty website feelunique.com stocks a huge range of makeup, perfume and aftershave, hair products and skincare ranges. It's frequently cheaper than the high street (as it's based in Jersey) and postage and packaging is free with its standard delivery option.

3. BUDGET WEBSITES

There are plenty of smaller web companies offering great deals but how can you be sure they are legitimate? Website 192.com lets you search a company's details just by inputting its name. Its free directory service will then show if there are any contact details for a company.

The top freebie websites

4. POSTAGE AND PACKAGING

Beware of hidden costs. Undoubtedly online retailers can offer significant discounts on their items but don't be caught out by postage and delivery costs.

For example, a search for the cheapest Lee Evans Live at the O2 DVD reveals that website sendIt.com is the cheapest, selling the DVD for £11.99. But on top of this you'll have to pay another £1.99 postage and packaging – making it virtually the same as HMV, which sells the DVD for £13.93.

5. SHOP ABROAD

Admittedly, the airfare to New York will wipe out any savings you stand to make on your Christmas shopping but if you're in the US over the festive period, big ticket items will certainly be cheaper to buy overseas. For example, Apple's iPad2 costs £368 in the UK but £347.79 in New York. A Tiffany ‘Return to Tiffany' silver heart tag charm bracelet costs £225 over here but £191.67.

Christmas shopping savings in New York

Savings on clothing items are even more marked: J Brand skinny jeans cost £205 in London, compared to £150.55 in the Big Apple - that's a 27% markdown according to the Post Office's calculations.

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