Christmas shopping: 10 Last minute tips

Make the most of your frantic festive dash

Don't let the big freeze put a stop to your Christmas shop. Take our top festive advice on board to take the Christmas shopping in your stride, safely and with the utmost ease.

As anyone who’s been anywhere near a major shopping street in December will know, festive shopping is an exercise in stress and peril to rival all-out urban warfare. If your looming shop is inducing panic, fret not: here are all the tips you need to streamline your buying.

See below for T3's last minute Christmas shopping tips

1/ Hit your deadlines
All online vendors have deadlines for deliveries before Christmas, but they largely depend on the delivery service used. The final day for Royal Mail first class deliveries is December 21 while special delivery is 23. Amazon’s last order date is 22 and the Apple Store’s is December 19.

2/ Check for SSL tech
The best deals are found online, but don’t be naive about scams. Only make online purchases through legit websites using Secure Sockets Layer technology (SSL) on their transaction pages. SSL sites display a lock icon on your browser window. Alternatively look for the tell-tale “s” in the web address, changing http to https. It’ll ensure your card details stay secret.

3/ Put it on credit
Pay for the big Christmas shop on plastic and most credit card companies will offer 100 per cent insurance on goods. So you’re covered for loss, damage, theft or online fraud. Spend big and you could rack up complimentary air miles or gift vouchers for a post-Christmas treat.

4/ Swipe for speed
SmartSwipe – £70 from Firebox.com – is a USB device that protects against phishing sites. Swipe your card and it’ll encrypt all your data before entering it into the store’s transaction forms.

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5/ Get the Tesco Groceries app
The insane supermarket rush for the last remaining turkey is best left to those willing to fight for their supper. Tesco Groceries is a free app for iPhone that allows you to order your festive goods online and pick a delivery time to suit
you. Best pre-heat the oven…

6/ Shop off-peak
Joining the cattle-like masses after work or on weekends will cause you to lose you hair and, studies have shown, miss the best deals. So if you’re averse to online shopping or have failed to Hit Your Deadlines (see #1)? Only venture to the high street late at night or early on weekdays.

7/ Get personal
Selfridges offers one- to three-hour free personal shopping services from Monday to Friday. It’s for clothes only but if you’ve an idea of who you’re buying for they’ll show you all the latest designs. Call 020 7318 3536 to book an appointment.

8/ Budget with apps
iDelux’s Christmas Shopping List app – 59p from the App Store – helps you craft a perfect list tailored to each member of your family, categorise each item as “bought” or “pending” and add up your total spend, comparing it to your preset budget.

9/ Steal ideas
If you’re really stuck for what to buy, the just bought.it filter on augmented reality app Layar – free from Android Market and the App Store – will show you what others around you have just splashed their cash on. It’ll also pinpoint local bargains using your phone’s camera, compass and GPS.

10/ Start again early
You always say you’re going to do it, but never do. This year, once January strikes head straight out and pick up all the half-price Christmas wrapping paper and cards you can carry