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Christmas is just around the corner, and it pays to be prepared before we enter a whirlwind of turkey, eggnog and impulse buys covered in sequins. Follow our early bird tips for stress-free Christmas shopping, and you'll breeze through the festive season in style.

Make a list and check it twice

It seems Santa knows a thing or two about good Christmas prep. Follow his lead this year and make a long list of who’s been naughty or nice, what you want to buy them and where you’ll go to find it. If you’re really organised you can even make a note when the gift is wrapped and ready to go. Write it all down or store it in a hidden document on your desktop, just don’t forget to hide it!

Stay at home

If avoiding the Christmas crowds sounds like a dream that’s too good to be true, think again. Be sure to take advantage of online shopping this year, pouring yourself a big glass of wine and slipping into a cosy cashmere knit while you’re at it. With merlot in hand and the heating on full blast, you’ll be free to browse in perfect peace, away from pushy crowds, tired feet and frostbitten fingers. Our top tip: get your purchases delivered to your office if nosey parkers can’t keep their curious little paws off all the exciting parcels popping through the letter box.

Be a Secret Santa

The list of people we have to buy for at Christmas can often get a bit overwhelming. Save yourself some time and hassle by suggesting a Secret Santa gift-giving session with best pals or work friends. With only one present to sort out, it’ll take a whole lot of stress off your shoulders, and leave you  freed up to source the perfect present just for them. Plus, saving money on several gifts means more money to spend on mulled wine. Win win.

Make it personal

There’s only so much bubble bath one woman can use, so why not skip the generic and treat loved ones to an extra special homemade gift this Christmas? If you’re the next Ruby Tandoh, whip up some super sweet batches of cookies, mince pies or gingerbread Santas. You can always personalise them with icing-piped names, or pop them in a pretty tin that can be kept forever. Homemade jams and chutneys never go unwelcomed, whilst a framed photo or simple scrapbook of favourite memories is sure to draw a smile on Christmas Day, and feels a thousand times more special than another scented candle.

Take the hint

So many of us fall into the trap of gifting our nearest and dearest with things they already have – another pair of socks for dad, anyone? Make a vow to actually listen to your friends and family this year, taking extra care to make note of the hints they drop as December hits. Do they forever have cold feet? Surprise them with a cosy pair of chunky knitted socks. Shopping for the girl who has everything? A gorgeous piece of sparkly jewellery never goes amiss, and will keep her looking party-perfect all winter long.

Wrap it up

It pays to get all the present wrapping done and dusted nice and early ahead of the big day. For a personal touch, why not ditch the shop-bought gift wrap covered in sparkly Rudolphs and smiley Santas and use plain brown packing paper instead? Tie it up with string or red ribbon for a homely finish.

 Need a bit more inspiration? Take a peek at our handy Gift Guide.

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