Buying a Christmas gift for your loved ones can often be the most difficult, which is why many of us leave it to the final few days to make that special purchase. The pressure to 'get it right' and to know the receiver better than they know themselves is high. For me at least, I feel I need to give them something they didn't know they wanted, something they will cherish, and something they will remember. So, what do you do when you have left it to the last few days before Christmas to make sure you choose that perfect gift?
1. Be attentive and listen. People often give away what they like and dislike in passing conversation. Keep your ears open over the next few days to see if they give you some hints, which will make your life easier.
2. Look online first before you hit the shops, that way you don't shop aimlessly and pick something at random. This may also help inspire your gift choice too.
3. Stick to brands you know they like. If you're not sure, look through their wardrobe first!
4. Try to keep objective. Ask yourself, is this what I like or will they like it too? We are all guilty of buying things with ourselves in mind!
5. Stick with your first instinct, as it's often the right one.
6. Don't be afraid to go experiential! We are all guilty of not spending enough time with loves ones, so a gift that incorporates seeing each other - like dinner for two at a new restaurant you have both been dying to try, or a theatre trip could be greatly received.
7. Add the personal touch and choose something with meaning.
8. Keep gifts fun. No one ever wants to receive something practical, so make sure it is luxurious and an item they would normally find too decadent to buy themselves.
9. Call ahead. If you know what you want, call the shop to reserve the item ahead of picking it up. Retailers are busiest in the days leading up to Christmas and you will not be the only person hoping to get your hands on must-have items.
10. Be practical. Hitting the shops just before Christmas is stressful. Wear sensible clothing, don't take children and be in for the long haul!
Follow Caroline Stanbury on Twitter: www.twitter.com/C_Stanbury