Survivor! How to win at Christmas Shopping

The rules of Christmas shopping are simple… Once the department store doors shut behind you, it’s every man for themselves.

The mission is clear – armed with your ‘Christmas List’, it’s time to source all the gifts you need in the least amount of time possible. The reward? A smug, relaxing few weeks without any stress and the option of just enjoying the festive period.

Obstacles are certain… From the ruthless mother in M&S Food who manages to pinch the last Christmas pudding right out from underneath you, to the endless heaving crowds you’ll have to navigate to reach the best John Lewis deals.

Whatever you do, make sure you follow these 7 steps if you want to be crowned a champion in Christmas shopping…

1)    Sustenance is key – make sure you’ve prepped yourself for what could be a perilous journey. That means plenty of water, a spare energy bar for some extra fuel, and a safely stored away wallet.

2)    Be prepared – all good things come to those that write lists; know what you want and know where you’re going – that way you can be sure to beat the seething hordes of desperate mums and dads rifling through the toy aisles.

3)    Map out your route - if you want to complete this mission as quickly as possible, don’t dither between locations – you’ll need a clear, concise route. Also take some time to plan the logistics; it’s going to be difficult to carry that fancy new espresso-maker around with you for the rest of the excursion, so conserve your energy and leave the heavy lifting till last.

4)    No distractions – yes we know the shop windows are all looking so pretty, and yes the smell of roasted chestnuts wafting over from the German markets is extremely tempting… but you need to block it all out. Think of it as white noise, and don’t lose sight of your mission. They’ll be plenty of time for all that once you’ve found your mum that perfect cashmere scarf she’s been after.

5)    Be polite – there’s always the temptation to push, shove and claw your way to the front of the Boots gift set stand. But don’t lose your head – you never know when you might need a helping hand from a stressed and impatient shop assistant. It pays to be polite!

6)    Never give in – you’ll be tested, and there may be times you just want to throw down the wallet, admit defeat and turn back home. But stay calm, persevere, and keep to mind the image of yourself curled up on the sofa that night with a mug of mulled wine, safe in the knowledge that you’ve successfully completed this year’s shop.

7)    Reward yourself – Once it’s all completed and you’ve made it back to base camp, it’s time to sit back, relax and reward yourself with a mince pie and a hot cocoa. Check your savings and current accounts. Make sure you check for damage – this means taking careful stock of all receipts and checking all credit cards are safely back in your wallet. It’s always wise to keep hold of any gift receipts as well – just in case!