You’re nearly there – don’t blow the budget now!

"It isn't enough!" Oh yes it is....

Today is one of the most dangerous shopping days of the year – the panicky last minute amateurs are out in their droves. If you’re not careful you’ll get swept along in their wake and end up in the aisle selling ‘The Simpsons’ socks and reindeer dropping chocolates. Stop.

Chances are you have already bought more than enough and can’t see the wood for the trees. If you do still have some awkward gaps do not leave the house before you have worked out who you are shopping for and what you are looking for. You don’t have to get it today. It’s better to spend an hour planning what you need to get instead of three hours panicking in M & S. Planners will get 4% back at KidStart from Beauty Expert, panickers will end up with an 50 shade eye shadow palette in colours their daughter will use precisely two of.

So, here is my trusty guide to the last days of Christmas gleaned from years of experience panic buying unwanted comedy boxer shorts and boxed sets of tv shows that would take a lifetime to watch.


Three trigger points that will send you out to the shops like a greyhound out of Trap 2

1. “ It hasn’t arrived! it hasn’t arrived!”
Stay in, it will, and if not make them an apologogram box with a photo of the object of desire inside it and a mini or supplementary version of it to tide them over till the postman returns. (If it’s a must have sweater pop in a Barbie sweater, ditto for shoes and bags) . If it’s technology pop in a game or accessory (festive woolly covers for phones or a Christmas dingle) .

2. “Paris has got three more presents than Lindsay she’ll HATE me! “
See if you can re-distribute, if not, do the unthinkable and hold one back to make it even – yes you can!

3. “It isn’t enough.”
It almost certainly is. Teenagers’ presents just don’t stack up the way a big pile of toys used to. Remember, all the best things come in small packages. It if was on the list, they will love it.

Three last minute presents for tricky people

1. Make a bespoke hamper
Go to your nearest charity or pound shop and buy a big basket and some cheap but tasteful baubles. Move on the garden centre and the supermarket and make up a deluxe hamper decorated with a cyclamen or the bulbs you planted way back in November.

2. Dress up tokens or tickets with a bit of glitz. Ballet tickets can be tucked inside a real nutcracker, driving lesson tokens hidden inside a toy Ferrari, or store gift tokens inside a bobble hat or gloves from the same shop

3. Dress up money in the same way – put it in a wallet just good enough to fool them that that’s it, or a book about what they want to spend it on or the sleeping bag they’ll need when they get there.

Remember, it is only one day, and we will have to have something left for those sales which we will be bombarded with ads for the moment The Queen finishes her speech.

And if  you do  hit the shops today,  don’t take any unnecessary risks. My daughter came back from an all day shop yesterday pale and shaking – “I’m not going back” she wailed when I phoned her with a teensy request for something from Boots. So, in the immortal words of  Sergeant Phil Esterhaus from Hill Street Blues “Let’s be careful out there”