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10 tips to help you survive the week before Christmas

Panicking over what to buy the in-laws or whether your food order will arrive on time? Our cheat sheet has all the answers.

christmas gifts food and card and sale signs
Last updated: 15 December 2020

Christmas is almost upon us! Whether you're in outright panic mode or you calmly wrapped up all your festive planning in September, these tips will come handy in the coming days.

1. Last-minute pressie ideas

Even the most dedicated Christmas shopper gets last-minute gift requests sprung upon them (or maybe you haven't even started your shopping yet? We won't judge). 

Our buying guides are here to help you before you shop:

For more inspiration, hear what CHOICE staff say they want (and definitely DON'T want) to open on Christmas Day.

fiona mair christmas cooking

CHOICE's kitchen queen Fiona Mair.

2. Freaking out over your Christmas feast?

All out of inspiration? Don't despair. Our resident kitchen queen is here to help. 

Check out Fiona Mair's expert tips for cooking for a crowd, the best appliances to use and how to plan your prep day-by-day. She even shares some of her favourite dishes too.

Also make sure you learn from other people's mistakes and avoid these epic food fails.

3. The gift of a gift card  

It's the king of last-minute Christmas gift ideas – in fact, Aussies spend up to $2.5 billion on gift cards each year. But they can also have a few pain points and there are some pitfalls you should avoid. 

Read our guide: How to buy the best gift cards before you commit.

4. The perfect last-minute gift: a chocolate box

A box of chocolate is a last-minute gift that always delivers - it's suitable for teachers, great-uncles, neighbours and colleagues alike. But how do you decide which one to give? 

Our chocolate box comparison has got you covered. 

5. Head instore or go online? 

It's getting a little close to the wire to do any online ordering if you want to ensure delivery before Christmas Day – so if you're still ordering anything (food or gifts), make sure you check delivery times to avoid disappointment. And read our pros and cons of doing your grocery shopping instore or online

Make sure you check delivery times to avoid disappointment

If you just can't stomach Christmas crowds, you can still do online grocery orders at Coles and Woolworths. Woolies will accept orders up until 6pm AEDT 23 December for pick-up on Christmas Eve. For home delivery, you can order by 6pm for next-day delivery and 11am for same-day delivery in selected areas. 

Coles says its delivery windows open seven days in advance, so to secure a delivery on Christmas Eve, customers can start to book from 17 December. 

Regardless of where you shop, check their websites carefully to ensure your delivery will arrive on time and they can deliver all the products you want.

choice staff with christmas signs

Don't stress! We have a ton of gift ideas and useful advice to get you through this last week before Santa arrives!

6. Be wary of last-minute extended warranties 

If you're buying home appliances or tech such as computers, tablets or smartphones in the lead up to Christmas (or looking to bag a bargain in the sales), read our guide on whether extended warranties are really worth paying extra for. (Hint: in most cases, they're probably not.)

7. Get the best tasting foods for your festive feast

Planning to stock up on seasonal goodies like fruit mince pies? Don't shop before you've checked our fruit mince pies review

We also tell you which supermarket custard is the best for your festive desserts and which Christmas pudding our experts rated highest. And if you're having oven difficulties with just a week to go, why not consider cooking Christmas lunch on the barbecue this year?

8. Ask for gift receipts (and store your receipts in an app)

If you're buying a last-minute gift and you're not sure if the lucky recipient is really going to love it, ask for gift receipts instore. These days, many retailers can also email them to you so you have an electronic record. 

If you have a lot of paper receipts, store them in one handy place in a plastic sleeve so it's easy to organise returns after Christmas if need be (and so they don't fade). Even better, take photos of them and store them in an app like the free ACCC Shopper app.

9. When to tell your insurer you're going on holiday

Planning an extended trip away from home, perhaps that long-awaited caravanning adventure or a sabbatical to a holiday house? Most of the policies in our home and contents insurance reviews require you to tell your insurer if you're away for 60 days or more – this could vary depending on whether you have a house sitter or Airbnb guest, though. 

Even if you're going away for a shorter time, there's things to consider to help keep your home safe while you're away: read our guide on How to make sure your home is still insured while you're on holiday.

10. Keep your cool 

In the midst of the festive madness, when you're panicking about finding the perfect lavender-scented hand cream for your kids' teacher, or stressing that the Christmas bon-bons don't match the napkins, take a deep breath and remember: we're all in this chaos together. 

If you need a good chuckle to ease the stresses of this time of year, read Penny Flanagan's all-too-relatable article about 10 thoughts we all have while Christmas shopping.

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact checking at CHOICE.