It's that time of year again, where we come up with some fresh ideas and means to use your Plusnet broadband to make this season a special and - most of all - relaxed one. We promise that there's something in this blog for everyone. Even for those of you who are so organised that they've already bought all their Christmas presents and have them wrapped, labelled and sat in the back of the wardrobe away from prying eyes and fingers ...
Black Friday and Mega Monday
Black Friday is a huge sale day over in the US. It's the day that follows Thanksgiving, and much like our Boxing Day sales over here it's when stores have the most reduced sale prices around. Amazon and a few other retailers are taking up the tradition over here, and it must be working because this year it's was reported that Black Friday sales exceeded a whopping $1 billion. The biggest online shopping day in the UK on the other hand passed last week. Mega Monday, or Cyber Monday as some sites are now calling it, takes place on the first Monday of December and saw up to £10,000 per second of online transactions during peak times. That's a 30% increase in sales compared to the year previous.
Quidco and TopCashBack
If you want to get something back from your shopping (and who wouldn't?) you could sign up for a service like Quidco or Topcashback. Many large and reputable retailers work with these sites to offer cashback on the purchases you make online. Just make sure you follow the link on the cash back site through to your intended purchase in order for it to track properly. Quidco now lets you register your credit/debit cards so when they're used in affiliated stores they automatically generate cashback. We should warn you this isn't instant, tracking and fulfilment of your cashback takes a while meaning you may be waiting a few weeks to get your cashback. Still, when has what's essentially free money ever been a bad thing? Get yourself signed up!
How about a site that can show you what's on sale? HotUKDeals is just that. Users from across the UK come together to share discounted products and services and special offer codes/vouchers they've found online or on the high street. Other users then vote to say whether they believe the deal to be 'hot' or not, with the more popular deals (which are usually sought after products/services or those with massive discounts) being pushed towards the front page. It's always worth a quick look there to see if the item you want is on sale or discounted somewhere - and you never know, you might even find the same item through one of the cashback sites mentioned above!
Voucher codes are a common way of offering discounts on certain items, and most shopping sites have the facility to add a code when you're at your shopping basket. Make a habit of searching sites like vouchercodes.co.uk or netvouchercodes.co.uk and see if they have any discounts for your favourite shopping sites - you never know your luck.
Last postal days
Christmas is coming quickly, so it's important to take delivery times into account when you're placing your orders for your presents. Keep an eye out for sites that will guarantee delivery before Christmas, and as it gets closer bear in mind you'll want to leave a week or so just to be safe - nobody wants little Tommy to be disappointed on Christmas Morning because his Lego Lord of the Rings game didn't arrive :-( If you need to check recommended deadlines for getting your gifts in the post, be sure to check the Royal Mail's website for their last posting dates. Lovemoney also have a list of sites and their respective deadlines for Christmas delivery.
Speaking of buying online, doesn't it seem like there's never a photo showing you the bit of your chosen product that you specifically wanted to check out? Well, Google are working on that. They're offering 360 degree views of products on their shopping pages so with any luck you'll soon be able to see all sides of whatever it is you want to buy. More information on Google 360 can be found over on Google's blog.
Apps for Christmas
Got a smartphone? Why not get some apps that'll help with Christmas? There's plenty of Christmas gift list apps out there for both Android and Apple smartphones - why not take a look at the Christmas Gift List planner for Android or The Christmas List for iOS? Both will let you set a budget, search for products at the best prices and keep track of what you've bought for whom - taking a lot of the headache away from present buying. Christmas Dinner ideas? No worries, there's an app for that too! If you have an Apple phone why not check out The Perfect Christmas Dinner? Or for Android users there's Christmas Recipes. Okay, how about Christmas Cards? Yes, you can design and send cards from your smartphone from, well, anywhere you could take a smartphone and have a working signal. You might want to investigate Greeting Card Maker for Android or Christmas Card Creator for iOS if this idea appeals to you.
Christmas Flash Games
After that lot you probably deserve a well-earned break! Here's some Christmas themed games to give you a giggle and a bit of relief from what can be a fairly stressful time for many of us. Collect the sugar!Infectonate the world!Send Santa off a ski jump! And of course (no pun intended!) - Christmas mini golf. Any of you able to beat our score of 65 on Santa Ski Jump? Let us know by leaving a comment below and feel free to share with us any Christmas tips of your own ...