I’m naturally impatient and crowds drive me crazy, so online shopping is so perfect for me.
Way before lockdown was even a thing, I preferred gift shopping from home. Why on earth would you put yourself through the hassle of driving somewhere, finding a park, getting inside with kids in tow, finding what you need, lugging it back to the car and battling the traffic back home when you can just open your laptop and have it sorted in minutes?
These days it’s so easy to make your pressie purchases from the comfort of your own sofa, and many retailers are currently offering free delivery and extended returns during the lockdown period.
Here are some of the sites I go back to, again and again:
This site takes your favourite pics and turns them into postcards that you can post to your loved ones all over the world. It’s a lovely way to stay connected with friends and family during lockdown and let them know you’re thinking of them. In my case it’s also an easy way to keep in touch with all the Kiwi aunties and uncles and grandparents, and send them updated photos of the girls.
I’ve made no secret of the fact I’m a plantaholic, and one of my favourite parts of the house is the living plant wall I’ve spent 18 months carefully cultivating. There have been some casualties along the way, so I’ve needed to occasionally refresh the wall (oops!), and I’m currently figuring out some plants to go in the lounge that will complete the redecorating proejct. Bakker is my favourite website for live plants and pot covers. You just order online, and around a week later a box arrives with your house plants safely tucked inside and ready to show off. This is also a brilliant site to order housewarming gifts for people – you can pick a plant and have it delivered directly to them.
I know what you’re thinking – the home shopping television channel? But hear me out – they also have a website where you can order from a huge range of brand name cosmetics and skincare, including Liz Earle, Benefit and L’Occitane. If you run out of a few things at once it can easily cost £100+ to replenish your makeup drawer, right?
I use this site because with many of the products you have the option of spreading payments over three months, which means you can sort all your gift shopping from home without blowing out your budget. They even have a specific ‘Gift’ section, where you can handpick lovely birthday presents, including fragrances, jewellery and homewares.
In a perfect world, we’d always have plenty of money to buy all the things we needed. Unfortunately, for a lot of us that just isn’t reality. There are birthdays that come in clumps, and appliances that break at the worst possible time, and children who seem to grow an inch overnight. Of course these usually happen when you least expect it, and can least afford it.
I’ve always been a fan of catalogues with instant credit, as – provided you use them cleverly – they allow you to buy what you need and spread your payments into manageable amounts.
Next has been a favourite of mine for many years. When OH and I bought our first flat and couldn’t afford to any furniture to put in it, we put two chest of drawers on the account and paid them off over the rest of the year.
Since the girls were born the majority of their clothes and school uniforms have been replenished by Next. When their birthdays roll around I’ll use the account to get them a couple of outfits and some accessories, and often use the account to buy presents for their friends birthdays too.
Without the option to use these credit accounts and pay off the balance over time, it would be very difficult for me to buy what they need when they need it. However, it’s very important to use these accounts wisely and to your advantage and MAKE THOSE PAYMENTS! Credit will usually incur a credit fee for the privilege, so the quicker you pay it off the better: just like a credit card, if you only pay the smallest amount possible it will cost you substantially more overall in interest, and if you skip payments, it can have a detrimental effect on your credit rating.
See? So even once lockdown ends, there’s no need to leave the sofa to do your gift shopping.