The extraordinary events of 2020 may have you feeling less festive than you usually would be at this time of year, but like it or not, Christmas is fast approaching and gift buying is firmly on the to-do list. With everything going on right now, it’s understandable if you haven’t got around to your shopping yet. Luckily, it’s not too late to sort out your presents. While the most obvious solution is to head to the stores, this may not be possible due to lockdown restrictions. So, if you’re having to rely solely on online shopping, here are a few tips to ensure all your gifts are accounted for before Christmas Day.
- Check delivery times
Delivery times should be your biggest priority when you’ve left your Christmas shopping dangerously close to the big day. There’s plenty to juggle during the festive season, so the least you can do is make sure your gifts definitely arrive before the 25th. Even if it means sacrificing a slightly better present for faster postage, it’ll be worth it.
Luckily lots of brands now offer next-day delivery. You’ll often have to pay more, although some give this for free when you spend a certain amount on their products. However, next-day delivery is only worth it if you do so before the relevant postal service’s Christmas deadline. For example, the Royal Mail recommends that 1st class packages are sent no later than Monday 21st December, whereas DPD is operating a normal service every day including Christmas Eve. Online shops should have a notice detailing the last viable order date.
If you’ve left your shopping really late, your only option for online orders is same-day delivery. This isn’t very common, but some couriers do provide it. CitySprint, for example, can collect packages from retailers and small businesses within an hour to deliver either to you or the gift recipient. Brands offering their own same-day delivery service include Argos (order before 5pm), and Schuh (for London customers who order before 2.30pm).
- Only brave the high street if absolutely necessary
Unfortunately for those in London and the South East, the introduction of Tier 4 means that all non-essential shops have had to close. However, it’s not too late to shop in store if you live in a region that falls within Tier 1 and 3 restrictions. That said, it’s risky and ill-advised unless absolutely essential. If going to a physical store is your only option at this point, try and take as many coronavirus precautions as you can.
As well as wearing a face mask and keeping your distance from other shoppers, it’s a good idea to stick to local retailers. Not only does this limit your time out and about and hopefully eliminate the need for public transport, but you can also do your bit to help the enterprises in your community. A survey by Simply Business revealed that small UK businesses have lost income between £10k and £17k on average due to Covid-19, so your custom is sure to be appreciated.
Additionally, try and avoid peak shopping hours by timing your trip very early in the morning or later in the evening. Major brands like John Lewis and M&S are even offering bookable shopping slots in some of their stores, and if you’re able to secure one, rest assured that the number of other customers will be at a safe level.
- Look for instant gifts
Another option is to look for gifts that are unaffected by delivery times and don’t need to be bought in store. Vouchers for the recipient’s favourite brand, restaurant or leisure venue are an obvious choice and these can usually be instantly emailed to them as well. Or, you may opt to get a more philanthropic gift with a charity gift card, ensuring your money goes towards helping the vulnerable around the world while giving your loved one the freedom to shop for something they’d enjoy. Oxfam’s charity gift cards, for example, fund a range of causes depending on the gift card you choose, from helping the bees to providing safe drinking water to communities around the world.
Alternatively you could treat your loved ones to a subscription package that provides them with monthly delights. For example, foodies will love a Pasta Evangelists subscription, giving them regular gourmet recipe boxes so they can make restaurant-quality pasta dishes at home. Beauty boxes are a great choice for those into cosmetics, and a Bloombox Club subscription is ideal for anyone who enjoys sprucing their home up with plants.
You could look for experience-based gifts. Whether it’s a booking for a yoga retreat, wine tasting, or go-karting, the lucky person will be grateful for something to look forward to after the turbulent year we’ve all had.