It’s three o'clock on the afternoon of 24 December and you have not
bought a single gift. Panic sets in. You are not the only one in this
situation. The shops are filled with other desperate last-minute
shoppers, at the point of doing bodily harm to each other. So what do
Here are a few tips (apart from buying a heap of those little gift
bags, in order to save you all that wrapping time) for all those who
have half an hour to get it all together, or face the wrath of their
One-size-fits-all. Accept that you do not have the time to get
individual gifts for everyone. Choose a single shop, such as a bookshop,
a soap shop or a department store and do all your Christmas shopping in
one place. You will be able to find something vaguely suitable for
everyone. You just don't have the time to go on an individual expedition
for each person, so even if the presents are a bit generic, it's better
than when you arrive empty-handed.
Money, money, money. Right, not very personal, but always
welcome and you can solve all your gift problems at the local ATM. The
secret is to go to a card shop and buy a few really nice cards, so that
the gifts do not look so impersonal. Take half an hour and write a
really nice message in each card. It will be appreciated. The only
problem is that this is definitely going to cost you quite a bit, as
there's no hiding what you paid for the present.
Lottery tickets. You could be giving a lot more than the face
value of the lottery ticket. This could be an exciting present for
someone who never gets around to buying Lotto tickets, but who always
dreams of winning the jackpot. And who knows, if it happens, you might
even get something out of it.
Fancy food. Go to a deli and get an array of really nice bottled
foodstuffs – olives, jams, pickled onions, fancy Balsamic vinegar and
olive oil. You can decide later who gets what, but these are presents
that are always appreciated. And they also won't break the bank.
Gift vouchers. These are not wildly personal, and they will cost
you, but everyone likes receiving these. It is always a good idea to
give a gift voucher for a shopping centre rather than for a particular
shop, as this leaves the choice wide open for the person who receives
it. Let's face it, if Uncle Danny has never read a book in his life,
he's not going to start, because you gave him a bookshop gift voucher.
Flowers and wine. OK, these gifts are for real emergencies –
flowers for all the women and wine for all the men. Everyone will be
happy to receive them, even though they do give the message loud and
clear that you spent all of ten minutes to do your shopping. People who
spent weeks trawling the malls looking for presents for you, might be a
bit thin-lipped when receiving this.
Chocolates. Mmmm. Not a real winner, but certainly better than
nothing. But only just. Boxes of chocolates are the last resort of the
gift-desperado, because on Christmas the kids are already on a
sugar-high, and the rest of the people on some sort of diet – either
self-imposed or as a result of existing medical conditions. In short,
anyone who guzzles the whole box, shouldn't be doing so.