Last Minute Christmas Shopping: 9 Must-Know Survival Tips

The number of shopping days before Christmas is officially here are dwindling at a worrying pace. But fear not.

Even if you are yet to tackle the beast that is christmas shopping, with our handy guide you will be ready to hit the shops for the most productive shopping sesh you’ve ever had. Really.

1. Personal Shopping Anyone?
Harvey Nichols has launched a ‘Click & Collect’ service, which lets you choose all your pieces online from the comfort of your own home/office/ car (delete as appropriate). You then visit the store and your personal Style Advisor will have everything ready for you, all laid out in your dedicated C&C changing room. You not only do you get the advice and one-to-one help, but they will have done all the hard work for you by collecting your edit of presents from around the store. Simple.

2. Seize The Day
We used to have to wait until the famous Boxing Day sales, but in 2013 the sales are starting earlier and earlier. Take some of the stress out of the Christmas shopping experience and, before you head out, scan the papers and online sites like Fashion Pixie first. That way you can receive sale alerts direct to your inbox or scan online for the best bargains out there – all in one handy site. Then it’s all systems go.

3. Get Your OCD On
We are a team of list-makers at Marie Claire HQ – there is nothing more satisfying that ticking off those presents from your list. Start with the most crucial at the top and remember you are buying for them – not you. Think about their likes and dislikes and their surroundings. Maybe your BFF who lives in a tiny studio flat won’t see the funny side of the real life cardboard cut-out of Harry Styles after all.

4. Log On
It’s getting cold outside, the car parks are all full at the out of town mall, you queue all morning only for the till point to close when you get there and you can’t seem to find a free sales advisor anywhere. Sound familiar? Pour yourself a Baileys, take a seat and go online. Browns is currently offering same day delivery in London, if you order before 1pm, and it’s free. Yay. Failing that, if you like to touch what you buy with your own hands, find them on South Molton Street in W1.

5. Go Off Piste
As much as we love the good old British high street, we also love to support up and coming designers. But where can they be found all under one roof, we hear you say? Pullens Yard in London’s SE17. If unique gifts and super-cool homeware from Marie Claire favourites like Alex Monroe Jewellery, Kate Scott (we heart her striped mugs) and Daniel Reynolds Ceramics is what you are after. Take a look from the 6 – 8 December for Artist Open Studios. Failing that, look online at sites like Etsy, which have a huge selection of handmade and vintage gift options. Or, go direct – we like Sara Lowes’ animal headdresses for that person who loves fancy dress, plus Fable and Folly is ideal for super cool stocking fillers for the men in your life.

6. Spread The Love
If you have a gigantic family, or you are just super-generous, it can seem overwhelming. We say spread it out. Group people together and work through your list a shop at a time. Your stylish mum, BFF and your boss get their boxes ticked at The White Company but Uncle John, who’s really a old family friend, and your boyfriend, may not work together so well. A little bit of planning goes a long way and means you can hop foot it to the bar that little bit quicker.

7. Or Make A Day Of It
No, we don’t mean trekking the length of Oxford Street, but if you do fancy that, our tip is to go late afternoon when all the early risers have been and gone. The fashion editor’s secret shop tip is Bicester Village in the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside, but only one hour from London. It’s the place to pick up your bargains. We head straight to Celine, Links of London, Temperley and L’Occtaine whenever we go. Something about being out of town and all the shops in one handy location makes this the relaxing way to shop.

8. Get Your Own Secret Weapon
They do all the hard work for you and you will find them at Selfridges in the form of ‘Elfridges’. See what they did there? Clever. Buying and Merchandising Director Sebastian Manes says: ‘With the best intentions in the world, we all approach Christmas shopping with at least one person in our lives who we have no idea what to buy. Elfridges are not only experts in Christmas present buying, they are experts in what to buy particular people, can help with wrapping, carrying and are all-round excellent little helpers.’ If you like the sound of that (we do), find them on the 4th floor, if we don’t beat you to it, that is.

9. If All Else Fails, Play It Cool
Hold your nerve and try to seize a bargain. Look out for the dramatic online price cuts in the week before Christmas. Agreed, it’s making us nervous thinking about leaving it all to the last minute, but we have been known to come up trumps with this method. Just sayin’.

Take a look at the most magical Christmas windows of 2013…

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