What type of Christmas shopper are you?

Find out your spending style and make life easier

We all know someone who starts their Christmas shopping while it’s still a summer heatwave – and, on the other end of the scale, others who leave it until Christmas Eve before doing a last-minute charge around the shops, having missed internet delivery deadlines.

Here, we look at some of the startlingly different ways people prepare for 25 December. Which type of shopper do you recognise yourself as, and without changing your personality type, how could you make the annual task easier for yourself? Check out our top tips at the end of each section to find out.

Type 1: The Super-Organised Gifter

Let’s get this one out of the way first. Calm and collected, and without a hint of panic, others can be prone to finding this type rather smug. But maybe that’s just down to envy. 

They tend to be skilled in bargain hunting as well as organisation. Either they have a list and tick things off it as they hunt down good-value presents throughout the year, or they free-wheel it and buy things for specific loved ones as and when inspiration strikes – demonstrating their dedication to finding the perfect present for every single recipient. Whichever way, the end result is that way before December arrives they’re probably already thinking about next year’s birthday gifts.

Our top tip if this is you: actually, uniquely among the different types of shoppers, we’re not sure you need any suggestions on present-buying as you’ve already got it covered. Accept our challenge to aim for similar efficiency with your festive catering plans.

Type 2: The Organised Forgetter

This shopper aims to be a Super-Organised Gifter but is tied up by their own forward planning, buying items far in advance – perhaps when they’re on offer – then stashing them away and either forgetting about them or misplacing them, meaning they having to source replacements last-minute and at more expense and thereby removing the advantage their previous organisation was intended to bring. (The lost calendar for the New Year will probably turn up at the back of a cupboard at some point the following summer, of course.)

Our top tip if this is you: it’s obvious, but every time you buy a present write down what it is, who it’s for and where you’ve stashed it. And don’t lose the list.

Type 3: The Panic Buyer

We all know one of these. This last-minute shopper waits until the week before Christmas before attacking the task, driven by adrenaline. They then either spend a frantic hour or so swiping and clicking online with crossed fingers, hoping that if they pay extra for speedy delivery their items will arrive on time, or run the gauntlet on the High Street, grabbing anything left in stock in the right colour/size/flavour/scent. We’re finding it stressful just describing them – no wonder they associate buying gifts with anxiety.

Our top tip if this is you: by early November make a list of people you’d like to give to, along with some ideas. Then chunk up your shopping into manageable sprints: set yourself deadlines in November and early December by when you aim to have bought the first present, the first five, ten and so on. Tick people off as you go so you can monitor your progress.

Type 4: The Online Expert

Growing in number every year, this army beats the High Street crowds from the comfort of their own home (or office). The savviest in this group may make a list in advance and spend a few days researching in order to get the best deals possible.

Our top tip if this is you: use a cashback site such as Topcashback to earn money on your purchases. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are ideally timed to cash in on festive purchases, but remember to check that any ‘offers’ represent genuine reductions. Our article Top 9 money-saving websites has some useful suggestions on how to save money online.

Type 5: The One-Stop Shopper

A mutation of The Online Expert, this type achieves super-efficiency by doing their entire Christmas shopping on a single site, in a single purchase – thereby undoubtedly saving on delivery costs as they await receipt of an extremely large parcel.

Our top tip if this is you: a single site is rarely the cheapest for absolutely everything – make sure you don’t miss out on bargains elsewhere in your drive for efficiency.

Type 6: The Department Store Devotee

Online shoppers do Christmas shopping, but this type go Christmas shopping. Ignoring the ease of online shopping from home, they revel in making an occasion of it, perhaps taking a friend and scheduling pit stops for lunch or afternoon tea with prosecco to draw out their enjoyment of the day.

Our top tip if this is you: remember your aim is to shop for others rather than get distracted by browsing and indulging yourself. If you do that, you may morph into The Panic Buyer.

Type 7: The Grinch Shopper

Likely to be a sub-set of The Panic Buyer, the lateness of this shopper’s foray can be explained by their utter hatred of the experience. They are characterised by the fact that they’re likely to grab the first half-decent gift they see, and as a result family and friends have low expectations come 25 December.

Our top tip if this is you: think about taking a different approach. If you hate shops, for example – the busyness, the noise, the crush, the (horror!) fun – why not browse online instead, from the comfortable peace and quiet of your home? You might find you have a higher tolerance for browsing, and surprise loved ones this year with some unexpectedly thoughtful gifts. 

Type 8: The Lavish Over-Spender

Irrespective of where they shop or when, this type is characterised by the way they use gifting as an opportunity to express their affection for the recipient. Their generosity can often be excessive – even pushing them into debt.

Our top tip if this is you: remember, no one is friendly with you because of the gifts you bestow – focus more on what you bring to the relationship as a person rather than material items you can offer. And if debt is a concern, please read our article Where can I get help with debt?

Type 9: The Caring Crafter

Jams, picture frames, bath bombs, bakes, wreaths, thoughtful knits, candles – this type isn’t a shopper as such, but a maker. A personal touch, rather than frugality, is likely to be their main aim but regardless, their approach is proof that you don’t need to spend a lot to show someone you care.

Our top tip if this is you: plan ahead for the best results with the least stress – even grow and harvest fruit in the summer to turn into preserves in the autumn.

Type 10: The Bargain Hunter

Driven by inventiveness and frugality, this dedicated type trawls car boot sales and online auction sites far in advance, trying to spot the perfect quirky bargain for each loved one. Squirrel-shaped nutcracker, anyone? Or original 1980s paperback of a favourite childhood book for a friend’s own children?

Our top tip if this is you: it’s easy to get carried away with the delight of an ingenious, bargain find – just remember to ask yourself if it will truly appeal to the recipient, away from the context of the thrilling discovery.

Type 11: The Re-Gifter

Gifts from friends and family often don’t quite hit the mark for this perfectionist type, so, ever-practical and frugal, they ensure the gifts don’t go to waste by recycling them (perhaps privately justifying doing so because of the environmental credentials this boasts) and giving them to other friends and family members next Christmas (or birthday).

Our top tip if this is you: when stashing items away, keep a list of who gave you what to avoid the embarrassment of inadvertently returning someone’s present to them the following year. Also check for hidden inscriptions inside an item that would betray the original source (‘To Jane, happy Christmas, love Sam’ inside a book, for example) and watch out for expiry dates on toiletries – you don’t want to give someone a ten-year-old tub of body cream that’s turned runny and gone a funny colour.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also be interested in our quiz, How do you manage your money – or does it manage you? Our articles Are you an emotional spender? and How to budget for a fabulous Christmas may also be helpful when trying to shop for less this Christmas.

Before making financial decisions always do research, or talk to a financial adviser. Views are those of our mentors and customers and do not constitute financial advice.