27/11/2015 8:31 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:50 PM AEST

Last Minute Christmas Panic Buys

Shawn Gearhart via Getty Images
Color image of a little girl with a stressed/shocked/surprised look on her face. She is wearing a Santa hat and an ugly Christmas sweater.

Twas the night before Christmas, and if you didn’t get around to finishing (or, let’s be honest, starting) your festive shopping list, what exactly are you going to do? All those people to buy for! So little time!!! DON'T PANIC!!! I mean, actually, really don't panic. We've got you.

While you might not get the same kudos as that guy who arranged the partridge in a pear tree, the Christmas miracle of December 25 trading means it’s never too late to magic up something to hand over on the big day.

Deli delights

If your local deli raises its shutters, make like an Italian and give the gift of panettone. The sweet bread loaf contains all the festive food groups: fat, sugar and, if you pick wisely, a truckload of boozy dried fruit. Panforte is a fine alternative, but anything vaguely Italian-sounding should do the trick. You can always make up a festive connection. As in, “Why, didn’t you know that the three wise men wrapped their gifts in slices of mortadella to protect them from the elements?”

Convenience store run

There’s bound to be a convenience store open somewhere near you. Now is the time to think outside the box and scour the aisles for something – anything, really – you can present to your nearest and dearest. Know what there’s not enough of on Christmas morning? Batteries. Sure, it’s not exactly a glamour gift, and there’s no guarantee you’ll be invited back for lunch next year, but you can never have too many AAs in the house. Or hedge your bets and create a gift hamper of assorted sizes. Winning.

News flash

A newsagency presents a rare opportunity to pick up a not-too-shabby last-minute gift option. Buy a magazine the recipient might like. When you present the gift, announce that you have arranged a subscription. If this news is well received, go ahead and sort out a subscription at some point in the next few months. If not, tell them the subscription company stuffed up and buy them something in the sales instead.

Coffee time

Here’s one for the coffee lover in your life. If his or her favourite cafe is open on Christmas morning, dash up and see if they’ll let you buy a gift voucher. Don’t worry if there’s no fancy printed card. Scrawl a note on a serviette instead and tell them it’s artisanal. Coffee drinkers love that sort of crap.

Servo saviours

Rare is the friendship that can survive the gift of a discount fuel voucher alone.

Happily, servos – the last resort of the disorganised gift-giver – are usually open on Christmas Day. Check out the counter displays for not-quite-so-crap options, such as CDs. Yes, I know, no one uses CDs anymore, but there’s still something about the shape that’s more impressive to open than an iTunes card. Failing that, raid the lolly aisle or car-care section. What’s not to love about a box of chocolates or a set of fluffy dice?

If all else fails …

Now for the in-case-of-emergency-break-glass option. On the bus, train, ferry or tram on your way to Christmas lunch, pick up a route map. Ideally, grab one that covers an interesting area, but by this point, beggars can’t be choosers. Find a pen, Google activities along the route and turn the map into a voucher for a “day of fun” with you. Promise the recipient an entire day of adventurous awesomeness, and then follow through with your pledge. Sometime before next Christmas.

Avoid the Christmas awkies this year. Add some Instant Scratch-Its to your gift!