Things you only know if you still haven't done your Christmas shopping

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As anyone who has braved a Christmas Eve shopping expedition can tell you, festive shoppers are a disorganised bunch. Despite 12 months of preparation time – including several sale days specifically dedicated to that purpose – some still scrabble about on deadline day.

Here are a few things you know to be true if you’re one of the many, many punters yet to put a gift beneath the tree.

1. The word ‘family’ becomes steadily more flexible

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Your Christmas shopping list is like a series of concentric circles. Circle number one represents mid-November, when every cousin is getting a carefully curated gift, alongside your favourite colleagues and probably the family dog.

By early December you’re into circle number two – non-relatives are off the list, as are canines, and the cousins may have to count as one. By the week before Christmas, you’re buying for the two most easily offended members of your immediate family, and no-one else.

2. You can always blame the post office

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You have to feel sorry for postal workers during the festive period – not only are they overworked, but they’re also unfairly blamed for a lot of ruined Christmases. Every John, Jack and Jane can claim their pressie is “in the mail”, and they “ordered before the deadline, honest” – and there’s no way to prove otherwise.

The problem comes when you use this excuse, but still fail to sort out the present, and the gift hasn’t ‘arrived’ two weeks later.

3. Online gifts are basically cheat codes

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Thank heavens for the internet. When the shops fall silent and the nation’s delivery people are tucked up in their jim-jams, the late-stage shopper can quietly log on and reel off his relatives in about 20 minutes.

A gift card for auntie, concert tickets for the cousins, and if you’re completely devoid of imagination, Amazon vouchers for everyone else.

4. People accuse you of being the Grinch

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We’re overflowing with festive spirit, we’re just supremely incompetent. To paraphrase Napoleon: “Never attribute to malice, that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

5. You swore that this time would be different

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The road to pre-Christmas panic is paved with good intentions, but if so inclined there is always a reason to procrastinate. Every year we swear never again, and every year we fail miserably. Maybe it’s time to pass through denial into acceptance …

6. “Surprise me” is the world’s most annoying phrase

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An infuriating cop-out used by the criminally indecisive, no-one actually wants to be surprised – they just expect a great gift without a glimmer of guidance, and will be as huffy as the next person if you don’t oblige.

We reckon this puts them on the naughty lists, so you’re within your rights to ‘surprise’ them with a pet rock.

7. At least you’ll be up to date

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Buying presents through the year sounds terribly clever, but when you pick up the hot new video game in mid-August, you can bet your baubles your youngster will somehow come home clutching it the following day.

Given the rate of modern tech turnover, mid-year shoppers might want to hold off on the new iPhone 4000 Edge Mini Mark II, in case the iPhone 4000 Edge Mini Mark III comes out the following month.

8. One way or another, you’ll get it done

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This is not your first rodeo. Last year it was a desperate dash to Myer, the year before you were saved by Amazon Prime, and when you were young enough to get away with it you ‘made’ your presents with googly eyes, pom-poms and superglue.

Now get thee to the shops – it’s time to save Christmas.

Have you done your Christmas shopping? How many people do you buy for?

– With PA

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