Christmas 2011 is dead – long live Christmas 2012!

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While January is a tough month for many, if you have any stamina left at all, there is the possibility of starting to make preparations for the following Christmas and saving as much as 75-90% of the price of a lot of things you’ll find yourself needing anyway, if you shop prudently in the sales. Here are this week’s top tips.

1. For wrapping paper, John Lewis appears to have a glut of the better stuff priced at 75p-£1 for a 3m roll. While some of it has Christmas designs, there is also plain gold and silver paper on offer too, that will make good gift wrap for birthday presents during the year. It’s on offer in many branches of Waitrose as well. Here are some examples.

http://www.johnlewis.com/283788/Product.aspx Silver gift wrap

http://www.johnlewis.com/283800/Product.aspx Patterned gift wrap

2. I have made surprisingly stylish gift tags for next year from picking out Christmas cards from the pile we have been sent, and cutting out squares from the smaller ones with central designs or motifs, making a hole with a hole punch in the corner, and threading off-white narrow satin ribbon through the corner. However if you want to buy them, John Lewis has some attractive ones  here:

http://www.johnlewis.com/231192748/Product.aspx

3. For ribbon and crackers and decorations, try looking in your local independent garden centre. These can offer a feast of bargains, if you time it right.

http://www.scotsdalegardencentre.co.uk/ Near Cambridge, 50% off most things.

http://www.oaktreegardencentre.co.uk/offers.html Bracknell, Berkshire

http://www.burleydamgardencentre.co.uk/ Little Sutton, Wirral

http://www.webbsdirect.co.uk/ Webbs, West Midlands

4. Lakeland is selling gift wrap storage bags for £5.99 that make the whole present wrapping experience a lot less fraught. If you don’t manage to snaffle one (they are only available in some stores at the moment), you could make your own quite easily if you copy the idea.

http://www.lakeland.co.uk/42980/Gift-Wrap-Storage-Bag

5. Charity Christmas cards from http://www.christmas-cards.org.uk/ provide great value – there is still a long list of charities who have reduced cards at the moment and some of the designs are gorgeous. Unlike many high street charity cards, all of the profits of these cards goes to the charity – normally they receive only a small proportion, which can be as low as 5-10%.

6. Try picking out some ‘free’ or cheap presents from http://shop4online.co.uk/ to put by for next Christmas and general use. It’s a good website, but you have to watch the postage costs carefully as they do add up. You are basically buying surplus goods from reader offers in newspapers and magazines, and some of them are really worth having.

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