When I was a child, there was nothing as fun as going shopping with my father for my mother's gift on Christmas Eve Day. Invariably, we'd end up at the handbag or fine jewellery counter at Burdine's ('the Florida store').
Usually, we'd also end up with a gift for me, and for many years, it was of the stuffed variety. Part of the fun was the last-minuteness of it all. Another part of the fun was going to the low-lit, elegant cosmetic section of Burdine's. (To this day I feel peace in the cosmetic section of department stores, no matter how hectic.)
For us it was easy. A bracelet here, a handbag there, maybe some perfume – an indulgence she would not have otherwise bought.
But in these busier days (where perfume and handbags are a necessity), last-minute shopping isn't so great. It is, for one, busier. But it's also less elegant, with more junk on offer, and a pressure that makes you think the junk might actually be good.
So how do you get through it?
To begin, make a list. There's nothing like trying to remember what you need when you're shopping under pressure. (We also believe in this when going to the grocery store, but that's another article, and goodness knows, for another audience.)
Have an idea of price in mind before you go. If you know that £20 or £2,000 is what you want to spend on someone, don't consider that gift for £30 or £3,000. (However, if the gift for £25 or £2,500 is perfect, then get it.)
Give yourself a long enough time to get your shopping done. Don't plan on meeting your friends at The Wolseley two hours after you set out. Make it four hours, and if you finish early, enjoy a peaceful hour on your own (for once!).
If you're unsure about a gift, give yourself a minute to think. Put it on hold for an hour or, if they won't do that, walk around with it for 30 minutes to see how it 'feels'.
Get a gift receipt. Often this isn't necessary, but you never know. If it's a book for a nephew or even your sister-in-law, it's not a bad idea. Discreetly slide it in the pages, and they'll find it if they need it.
And lastly, if you can, make it an event. Shop the day before for your significant other, and bring that person (or another lovely creature) along for a fun-filled, romantic romp in the shops. You'll all enjoy it more, and you'll probably end up with better gifts.