Georgina Heffernan guides us around the festive mayhem that is last minute Christmas shopping.
Have you done your Christmas shopping yet? If I had a euro for every time someone has asked me that question, I would not be writing this story. I would be sitting on a beach in Hawaii sipping Krug from my diamond-encrusted Champagne flute. But they are the words on everyone's lips, from your hairdresser to taxi driver to the Santa-hatted chap you eventually buy your Christmas tree from.
For those of you who’ve left your Christmas shopping until the very last minute, let me tell you this – you need Scrooge-like determination and dexterity to survive the crazed hordes on the hunt for, largely, pointless presents.
There are lots of days in the year I hate. New Year's Eve-ry-one-else-is-having-a-better-time-than-you is one. The day when the clocks go forward and you lose an hour's sleep is another. But Christmas Eve is definitely the worst, because that's when I have to do, in one day, what disgustingly sensible, nauseatingly well-organised people have been doing for the past month - Christmas shopping.
I dislike the experience so much that I usually leave it until the very last minute and I often hold out until Christmas Eve, when I join desperate shoppers for a trawl through the shops in the traditional battle for slightly crushed 'luxury fragrance' sets or novelty jumpers. Any fool can shop in November. The challenge is to do it at 4pm on Christmas Eve when there's nowhere to park and the shops are rammed with panic-stricken customers and there’s hardly anything left on the shelves to buy. That's proper Christmas shopping in my book.
In the past my poor mother has been the recipient of a tea cosy, a foot spa, a leopard print apron and other horrid presents, such as cookbooks and fingerless gloves. So with the big day hurtling towards us, and only half of my presents purchased – I’ve had a look at the best places to shop in an attempt to make the whole affair less stressful.
Even if your Christmas is heading for catastrophe at the 11th hour, all is not lost. These days it's becoming increasingly possible to leave things to the last minute while still coming up smelling of roses when the big day finally arrives. On the last few days before the nation pulls up its collective drawbridge and settles down to outsize meals, most of us are hitting the shops in the quest for that elusive ‘perfect ‘ gift.
Anyone who visited the shops last Saturday will testify that the weekends before Christmas are never a fun time for shopping. But unless you're so well organised that you can do your Christmas shopping in September, what choice have you got? The answer nowadays is lots of choice; with shops ever-more eager to attract you by throwing open their doors around the clock.
This year stores are aggressively discounting much of their stock in a bid to attract customers, so expect major savings and bargains galore. Liffey Valley has it all wrapped up this festive season with a fantastic selection of Christmas gift ideas to suit all tastes and budgets. From must have cosmetics to snuggly baby outfits, chic handbags, designer clothes and fine wines.
Also, down at Spencer dock is the fabulous Christmas market. The Christmas Market in Dublin has been running for a few years now and there's nothing like the magical festive atmosphere that comes with it, with a funfair and fantastic food stalls there's something for everyone - even the kiddies. You’ll find everything here from unusual crafts, gifts, wooden toys and beauty products, to handmade jewellery, glassware and ceramics, so you're bound to pick up some unique gifts and stocking fillers there.
Dundrum shopping centre has also extended its hours as have many of the major shopping centres in the lead up to Christmas and many high streets stores have slashed prices in an attempt to attract customers. So what are you’re waiting for, it's time to get your skates on if you want to get grab the kind of presents that your relatives will actually like for a change...