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“Smug alert – Christmas shopping is in the bag!” Lucy Mangan on the benefits of buying presents early

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Stylist columnist Lucy Mangan believes that picking up presents throughout the year is the key to festive happiness. Here, she shares her tips for making an early start on Christmas 2016...

Every year I promise I’m going to be brave. Just come out and say it. Own it. And I always chicken out. Well, not this time. My name is Lucy Mangan and I have completed my Christmas shopping. Ages ago. Beginning of November. That’s right. If Christmas had suddenly been pulled forward eight weeks ago, I would have been sitting pretty. 

Don’t hate me. Learn from me. 

First you must accept that Christmas comes every year. On the same date. 25 December. That’s Christmas. So you can safely spread your buying of presents over the whole year. THEIR TIME WILL COME. And when it does, all you will have to do is wrap them and give them to people.

Do you know when a very good time to do a lot of Christmas shopping is? In the Boxing Day sales of the one before. You’re off work, and prices have been slashed. It’s win-win. What’s stopping you? Is it the fact that you have an infinite amount of time and money? Because you are in fact a unicorn made of gold?  No? Then it becomes a useful litmus test. Is it that you don’t have the self-confidence to buy without being first reassured by the fact that it’s expensive, or absolutely new on the shelf, the latest of the latest of the latest version of the latest thing? 

Lucy Mangan

Or is it pride – as Ving Rhames in Pulp Fiction so rightly put it, some years ago – f**king with you? Does shopping in the sales feel like an admission of fiscal failure? Do you think your friends will judge you for – what? Having less money than they do? Having less money than you ‘should’?

You know what to do with all of this. Let it go. Or let the friends go. They sound horrible.

Shop the sales, but judiciously. Don’t be a numbnut and buy biscuits and marzipan fruits  that will be out of date by February. Though they would be the perfect passive aggressive present next year for someone who really makes your t*ts itch.

Maybe I should keep a few in store. Don’t buy something for a fashionista friend that she will know perfectly well was out a/w 2015 and should have had a stake put through its heart at midnight 1 January 2016. But do stock up on lovely, durable things, for lovely, durable friends. Who know you are not a golden unicorn and that you are trying to give them the greatest bang for your buck.

Then carry on picking stuff up throughout the year. See something perfect for your mother, father, sister, in-law, ex you’re still secretly in love with? Buy it. Put it in a cupboard. Tick them off the list. Concentrate now spare energies elsewhere. By Christmas, instead of fevered pressures to find ideal gifts for 800 people rushing and flapping at you from all sides, you will be free. Free to go to parties, have hangovers, buy, cook and devour gorgeous food, and still hold down a job. You will feel JOYFUL and FESTIVE instead of TEARFUL and ANGRY. Brilliant!

I always leave a few slots free on the slate for some seasonal goodies – my sister gets a make-up palette from the new releases for that Christmas, my dad gets a couple of just published hardbacks and so on, but the bulk of it is done by November. Once you’re into the syncopated swing of things and used to running 12 months ahead, life becomes easier than you can believe. Merry Christmas!


London underground

Vile fat shamers need to be told

So, some group calling itself (grammatically unsoundly) “Overweight Haters” has been handing out “fat-shaming” cards to people on the Tube. It seems to have been just to women, so far. “Our organisation hates and resents fat people,” say the cards. “It’s really not glandular, it’s your gluttony… We do not understand why you fail to grasp that by eating less you will be better off, slimmer, happy and find a partner…You are a fat, ugly human.”

There is much to discuss here, but on the grounds that life is short, and engaging with such d*ckfaces is unrewarding, I’m just going to get reciprocal cards printed with “... and the horse you rode in on” to hand to any group members who approach me or anyone nearby. Come to think of it, they could come in handy almost anywhere. I might give a pack as multi-service Christmas presents to all my friends.


Photography: Ellis Parrinder, Rex Features

To read this week's issue of Stylist, download from app.stylist.co.uk

Do you start your Christmas shopping early? Tell us in the comments section below.

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