Don't panic! Here's our top tips for some last-minute shopping
Published 23/12/2011 | 06:00
Three days to go to Christmas. Have you all the food and pressies bought? If you have, good for you. But if you're the type that races around on Christmas Eve looking for a ham or decides that the local garage is gift central (anti-freeze, anyone?) then think again, for all is not lost.
It is too late for online purchases, but if you see a good deal on one of the 'deal of the day' websites, you can still buy it, print out the voucher and put it in a nice envelope.
Many deal sites are selling products as well as lifestyle treats in the run-up to Christmas. You'll get the gift at a discount of 50pc or more off the retail price but as the retail value is written on the voucher, your loved one won't even know what you spent.
Other than that, it's out to the shops. Most are open late these days, so you've no excuse. The fancy gift mecca that is Brown Thomas is open until 10pm this evening in Dublin, as is Arnotts, which also opens until 10pm tomorrow.
The BT stores in Cork and Limerick are trading to 9pm today and tomorrow and to 9.30pm in Galway. Christmas Eve shoppers have until 6pm in Dublin, Limerick and Galway and 5.30pm in Cork.
You have plenty of time yet to board the shopping express coach to the Kildare Village outlet centre. The bus costs €12 return from Dublin or €20 return from Shannon and Limerick and you'll get up to 60pc off on all purchases. It's open until 8pm and to 5pm on Christmas Eve.
To add some fun to the shopping experience, and get the kids involved too, head to a Christmas market. Yes, many have been and gone, but there are still markets to visit.
Limerick's market at Cornmarket Row is open on Christmas Eve, as is the Christmas market on Little Patrick Street in Waterford, but get there early as it closes at 3pm.
In Dublin, the German Christmas market at The Square in Tallaght runs until the centre closes on Christmas Eve, but be warned that the Dublin Docklands Christmas market ends at 8pm tomorrow.
Okay, pressies sorted, but what about food, and most especially the turkey and ham?
According to Dave Lang, Development Manager at Associated Craft Butchers of Ireland, the end of November is really the time to be ordering your turkey from your local craft butcher. But he says that butchers may have spares as they tend to order a little extra, so do ask. And he adds that as hams last longer, it shouldn't be as difficult to pick one up.
"If stuck why not try for a crown or breast of turkey," advises Lang, "or a fillet or slipper of ham."
Or you could try a different approach. Lang says rib of beef on-the-bone is a delicious alternative and he also suggests spiced beef, goose or a leg of lamb or pork.
You could also look to the supermarket for those alternatives; Aldi is selling a whole duck for €8.99, a whole stuffed pheasant for €9.99 or a whole goose for €27.99. Meanwhile Lidl has a Barberie duck for €9.99, wild pheasant for €9.99 and a lobster for €5.99.
Over at SuperValu their ham fillets are half-price (from €8 to €14) until Christmas Eve. Of course, there's no guarantee there'll be any left by then, but if not, console yourself with their party food, which is also half-price (mini-quiche, chicken wings or Chinese selection for €2).
Over at Dunnes, their party filo prawns are €2.49 and their Chinese selection and party chicken goujons are €2.69.
Dunnes has a cheeseboard with four Irish cheeses for €10, while SuperValu's cheeseboard, including five cheeses, oatcakes, relish and the board is now €10 down from €20. Sometimes, last-minute shopping has benefits after all!