If the fact that Christmas Day is looming has passed you by – and you’re still thinking you’ve got plenty of time to prepare, think again. You’ve got a lot of leg work to do, but it’s possible to plan your festive celebrations, and do your Christmas shopping, in a matter of days. Just follow our survival guide.

The gifts

If all else fails, you’ve got to get this bit right. People will forget if you don’t have a turkey, but your other half won’t be happy that you forgot their gift.

Lots of shops on Oxford Street are open on Christmas Eve, but, if you’re really strapped for time, some online retailers are still taking orders for pre-Christmas delivery.

Shop on amazon.co.uk until Dec 23, but only on selected items and at a price.

Harriet Webber, of Party Planners (party-planners.co.uk), recommends taking a look at allthingsgifts.co.uk – where you can opt for next-day delivery until Wednesday. “It’s an amazing website full of quirky little gifts, especially for men who are notoriously hard to buy for,” she says.

If you order today, Funkyhampers.com has themed gift packages. Also try redletterdays.co.uk for anything from spa packages to parachute jumps – you can opt to have an evoucher sent to the recipient, so no need for delivery!

Our friends at vouchercodes.co.uk have put together a list of retailers that are pushing delivery dates to the limit – such as Warehouse, which delivers on Xmas Eve if you book by midday on Tuesday. Check out their website for full details.

The greetings

You’re rapidly running out of time to post, so send e-cards instead. Turn your loved ones into dancing snowmen on JibJab.com or download the Super Dance Elf app and create an iPhone card using a picture of an elf and your friend’s face. To post cards, order from moonpig.com or funkypigeon.com, where some cards cost less than £2 and are delivered in the UK for free. But do it today.

The booze

Christmas just isn’t the same without some mulled wine and bubbles.

Nakedwines.com is still guaranteeing next-day delivering on orders placed up until Dec 23 as is www.beerritz.co.uk. However, Virgin Wines (virginwines.co.uk) has a deadline of today for deliveries before Xmas.

Once you’ve ordered your booze, don’t make the mistake of forgetting the ice.

The grub

If you have never tried buying your groceries online, now is the time. All the major supermarkets deliver the next day if you order by 12pm – but you may have missed their Christmas slots.

Harriet Webber recommends Waitrose’s online arm, Ocado. “They put amazing Christmas packages together such as a vegetable medley, where they’ll send over a whole selection of veggies in one package, plus they have turkeys basted and ready to go and canapes,” she says.

If you are roasting a turkey, text its weight in kilos to a texting service on 64446, which will weigh up your cooking times and how many it will feed.

The entertainment

Don’t kill a festive atmosphere by putting everyone in front of the TV. Either get on to iTunes fast to download a bunch of Xmas songs – or go retro.

“Puzzles, Trivial Persuit and the game-show based games are great,” Webber says. “Or charades.”

The decorations

Fulham Palace Garden Centre, Fulham, may still have trees left. If that fails, cheat.

“If nothing else, candles, candles, candles,” says Webber. “They are the most flattering light you can provide for a festive gathering and one of the cheapest decorations around.”

Going out

Very few pubs are open on Christmas Day, but we’ve tracked them down – and they’re serving lunch. Thatched house, Ravenscourt Park (thatchedhouse.com), Windmill Hotel, Clapham Common (windmillclapham.co.uk), The Ship, Wandsworth (theship.co.uk) and The House, Islington (thehouseislington.com).


On Christmas Eve and Boxing Day Tubes operate a Sunday service. This will be the same for buses, but they will stop running near midnight. The last Overground services will depart at about 9pm. There are no TfL services on Christmas Day. Boxing Day services are on a reduced Sunday timetable.


To book a black cab, ring the 24-hour One-Number Taxi (0871 871 8710) or hail one in the street. There’s a £4 surcharge on Christmas Day. You can book a licensed minicab through the 24-hour line (020 7222 1234) or use the Cabwise service. Text the word HOME to 60835 and you’ll be sent telephone numbers for two licensed minicab operators in the area.


The latest recommended posting dates for Christmas is today for first class post so get a wriggle on! Special delivery is Wednesday Dec 23. You’ve got little hope of sending Christmas gifts overseas at this stage.

Catch the last post for Christmas.


– Rebecca Kent