Over the last few years we've noticed that the cost of toys across many retail websites, and in shops, see a marked increase as Christmas approaches, and worse than that, stock availability is often poor during the festive season. Sometimes the price of individual items rises, in other instances, special offers that were available in earlier parts of the year disappear in the run-up to Christmas.
Our advice is to do your Christmas shopping early. Start looking for genuine bargains over the next few weeks and months. If you know some of the toys or other products that you want to buy then start monitoring their prices now and see if they come into a sale during the autumn.
Shopping early does mean that you could miss the number one Christmas toy, but if that's the only toy that you buy in the run up to Christmas, you can save yourself, quite literally, hundreds of pounds.
The New Year sales offer a great opportunity to stock up on birthday presents for the coming year. The only downside is that you need space to store everything until birthdays arrive, but if you have a cupboard out of the way, you can make dramatic savings.
We're only just past the summer solstice, marking the middle of the year, but there's no better time to starting your Christmas shopping than right now! Retailers in the high street and online are suffering poor sales - we don't have money to spend and we're not buying. Shops are currently launching into their summer sales, many starting earlier than usual. Now is the perfect time to bag yourself some bargains rather than waiting for Christmas.
Particularly good value at the moment are children's audio and video offerings. Family DVD's and CD's are cheaper at the moment than they will be at Christmas. Amazon and Play are selling many Disney DVD's for between £5 and £8 at the moment. Come Christmas time, they will probably run the same Buy One Get One that they have for the past couple of years, but suddenly all their titles will be retailing at a much higher price - you'll feel like you're getting a bargain but in truth you'll probably end up paying more than you will for the same titles right now.
Many toy retailers are also offering discounted goods at the moment. Grab yourself some bargains, pick up stocking fillers and stock pile gifts for friends' birthday parties now! Every parent takes advantage of discounted toys to give at parties, shop efficiently and you can save yourself a small fortune!
What do you do with all the baby clothes and equipment once your baby grows out of them? So often, babies grow so quickly that their clothes are hardly worn. If you are like most families, the clothes will clog up drawers and wardrobes and get mixed up in clothes that fit and generally get in the way.
What to do? Do you keep them for posterity or sentimental reasons? Do you just throw them away? Do charity shops even want baby clothing?
Store them: If you are intending to have more children, then wash and iron the clothes. Pack them into bags labeled by age range and neatly store them in sealed bags. They store much better when ironed and will look nicer once they come out of storage. Don't worry if you have a different gender the next time round... babies really don't mind what they wear so you may as well get use out of the clothes than worry whether your next baby boy will appreciate flower fairy pyjamas. No one will see!
Friends and Family: There are bound to be friends and family who would be happy to take the clothes off your hands and there is no shame in offering, or accepting second hand clothing. Call it, "previously worn" or "previously loved" rather than old or second hand.
Nearly New Sales: The NCT run local sales all over the country. You have to buy a table to sell from or sometimes the local NCT group will arrange the selling and you simply offer a percentage of your takings. Schools and local groups also arrange sales so keep you eyes open and make use of these sales options. If you are embarrassed about selling, go to a nearby town where no one knows you!
Go to nct.org.uk for more info.
Maternity wards: Try your local hospital or maternity ward and see if they need any baby clothing. Often they are happy to receive baby grows, vests, blankets etc to hand over to new mums who forget or run out of clothing. Or, they may even know of local mums who would appreciate some extra clothes for their baby. The health visitor may also be able to take things off your hands to pass on to needy families.
Charity Shop: Check first before taking things to the charity shop as they may be well stocked for baby clothing so its worth calling first. They are usually quite happy to take nice quality clothes and toys.
Pre-Schools and infant schools - pre-schools may wish to take clothing or toys off your hands. So too might play groups, church creches for Sunday schools etc. They may have fairs and stall that will sell toys or may use them for the children.
Try not to throw them away and if you really think your clothing is mucky then use the huge clothing recycling bins so the fabric can be recycled.