Brand and shopping advice

The last-minute present-buying guide

The last-minute present-buying guide

There’s a particular type of present that screams ‘panic buy’. It doesn’t have to be as obvious as forecourt flowers, but some gifts still bear the distinct whiff of last-minute. We’re not ones to judge – who hasn’t spent at least one Christmas Eve scuttling around a department store? But a pleasant experience it is not. Our advice? Avoid at all cost. Instead, opt for something painless that shows you’ve put some thought in (even if you didn’t manage to put the time in before now).

To make a down-to-the-wire present seem like something you bought months ago, you need to avoid obvious pitfalls like not knowing their size, or forgetting that your little nephew just graduated and hasn’t been into Lego for more than a decade. We’ve steered away from DIY gift hacks, figuring that if you’re late enough to be reading this, you won’t have time to source a Mason jar or pour a candle. As for budgets, we’ve left that up to you; but happily, most of these ideas are available at various price points.

So now, all you have to do is brace yourself for the onslaught of thank you cards heading your way.

Go for accessories

Not shoes though. One size fits all is the aim of the game. You might know the measurements of your very nearest and dearest (or at least be able to hazard a guess) but you probably don’t know Auntie Margaret’s shoe size. Hedge your bets by going for classic items in safe colours and touchable materials. Leather, from wallets to backpacks, is always welcomed, as are cashmere scarves, hats and gloves.

Give a gift that’s not just for Christmas

From craft beer to cacti to coffee, there’s now a subscription service for every hobby or interest, however niche. Their beauty as a Christmas gift is that, in the gloomy depths of February, cousin Jimmy gets a warm glow when your thoughtfully chosen subscription lands on his doormat. Memberships are also ideal, especially since you can print them off and slot them into a nice card. Choose from cinema, theatre, gallery, or even riding school memberships, depending on your receiver’s tastes.

Try experience vouchers

A little different to a subscription service, these tend to take the form of ‘Supercar race days’ for men or ‘Generic spa days’ for women. Try not to fall into that trap (unless you know that the other party would adore it). Think outside the box and see if any local businesses offer such experiences. For instance, butchers might offer butchery classes, wine shops might hold tasting courses, or your favourite coffee shop might offer barista days.

The failsafes: food and drink

If you do end up doing a supermarket sweep for your presents, then at least bypass the Quality Streets. Booze is usually a safe bet, but go for something a bit unexpected, like a Japanese whisky or small-batch gin. If you want to go all out, make your own hamper with some special cheeses, a bottle of port and a box of fancy crackers.


Words: Theresa Harold
Illustration: Elliot Kruszynski