This is it! The shop shelves are bulging and the queues are getting longer at the checkout. The way some people act at this time of year you’d think civilisation was about to collapse and they were stocking up for a siege.
You know that Christmas Eve morning it will reach its peak frenzy as people suddenly panic that they may not have enough to feed an army. Come the afternoon things will quieten down and suddenly the shops will empty of shoppers.
This is when the managers take stock and us bargain hunters can cash in. It’s worth being prepared to nip between 3 or 4 supermarkets. If one has lots of empty shelves it’s unlikely to have much to reduce so quick, onto the next.
Our Christmas Eve bargains have included a sack of parsnips for a pound, free bags of sprouts at the checkout, a large ham, fresh cranberries, tubs of cream for pennies, a large Châteaubriand steak down from £25 to £5, fresh salmon and very large turkeys for less than £10.
In some ways it’s like playing poker – when to hold and when to raise. You have to guess whether the reduced items will sell out at first reduction or is it worth waiting until the end when they’re almost giving things away. Or will the staff buy them?
Whilst you’re playing bargain hunt, note a few sell buy dates of things on the shelves. You can often find a lot of perishables that have a use by date just after Christmas, like the 27th. Worth dropping back in to pick up a few more bargains on the day. From now to the new year there are lots of food bargains to be found, with a little luck.
A wheel of Stilton cheese might seem too big; but get it home, cut it up into reasonable pieces and wrap in clingfilm before freezing. Stilton is a lovely cheese for improving a soup or adding to Cheddar cheese to just perk up a sauce.
After Christmas is the ideal time to buy cards, wrapping paper and decorations. Pop them into a box in the loft and you’ve made a head start on next year’s low cost Christmas.