“Never put off till tomorrow what may be done the day after tomorrow just as well,” as Mark Twain once said.
Now, this is all very well, but Mark Twain was probably not in charge of buying Christmas presents for dozens of friends and family (whether they were kith and kin from his own side or not).
The well-organised among us may relish present-buying, some looking out for perfect gifts months ahead, but even then, it can go awry. We can plan as carefully and as far in advance as we like for Christmas – but there’s usually always someone or something that slips through the net, recalled with a gasp on Christmas Eve.
Perhaps we worry too much about it. In many ways, there’s a lot to be said for leaving much of the present buying to the last minute, even if you have quite a few gifts to buy.
Procrastination may be the thief of time but it can also prove to be quite economical, thanks to the many pre-Christmas sales on the High Street. There are bargains to be had out there, with prices reduced typically 20 to 50 per cent on lots of lust-worthy gifts. It’s actually a great time to hit the shops.
If we arm ourselves with a list of names, plus a couple of ideas to go with each one, present-buying need not be the whirlwind of chaos and disappointed confusion that so many of us turn it into.
So, if you find yourself short of a gift or two (or, like me, about 40), grab your cash card and head for the High Street and the shopping centres right now, and get on with it.
Make for the beauty sections for best bargains on perfume and limited edition beauty gifts. Stick to a clean, modern classic such as DKNY if you are not sure what scent is preferred. Ask too if there are any free gifts with purchase left, often limited edition purses with small versions of, say, a mascara and a lipgloss – a handy boost for limp-looking festive stockings.
River Island, Marks & Spencer and Top Shop all have lovely pieces of jewellery at incredibly reasonable prices – look out for statement collar necklaces and cuffs.
Luggage is always a good bet. For men and boys, look out for rucksacks, while for women, try House of Fraser for well-known names and Hobbs, Radley and River Island for designs most women will like.
If you know the shoe size, a pair of boots makes a great present for men or women – more wearable than shoes, but keep their style in mind.
And if you are completely at a loss, go for scented candles (not too heady) or Champagne. Maybe both.