As a student, I used to work at Christmas in our local chemist shop where, every December 24, we'd watch and wait and at 5.55pm on the button, there would always be some eejit peering in the window with a panic-stricken face, wanting to buy "anything" he could get his hands on.
Now, if we weren't so nice, we could have sold these 11th hour, what I call 'blind terror' shoppers, literally anything. There's nothing like the guilt of a time-poor, festive shopper and every year we inevitably sold the off the yard of Tweed simply because the box of perfume products was three-foot tall, and looked impressive.
Two days before Santa arrives, there is absolutely no reason why you should be panicked into spending way over your budget and resort to flashing the plastic for gifts. I'm a big fan of the gift that keeps on giving beyond Christmas Day, and if that means half way into 2016, all the better.
The good news is that you can still achieve a lot in thoughtful gifting today and tomorrow.
One colourful, fragrant option is a Year of Blooms where, depending on your budget, you can have an arrangement or bunch of freshly cut flowers delivered once a month or once every eight weeks. I got the idea from Ruth Monahan of Appassionata Flowers in Dublin and it never fails to go down a treat because it brings with it a glorious element of surprise; you never know what's going to arrive as the blooms, foliage, colours and fragrances change so much season to season.
If you are an adult relative trying to find something for a young girl who loves fashion and make up but you don't have time to hit the shops, I recommend placing a subscription for something like Glossybox. It's like Christmas once a month when your box arrives with an edit of new, innovative products and cult classics from the world's leading beauty brands. The MD of the company is Irish woman, Rachel Kavanagh, who has impeccible taste and the miniatures are uber handy for carrying in your handbag. Subscription rates start at €35 for three months, €73 for six months, or €138 for 12 months.
Got a coffee fiend in your life? Java Republic's 'Bean Society' run the Coffee Citizens service and each month, they deliver a different 227g bag of beans. The first delivery will contain a starter pack including a grinder and an aeropress, to equip you with everything you need to brew and savour some of the world's best coffees.
Prices are €195 for 12 months or €140 for six months.
For the woman in your life who has everything and loves make up, there is one brand that is on everyone's lips this year and that is make-up artist to the stars Charlotte Tilbury. On Christmas Eve her new range of products will be standing four-deep at her counter in Brown Thomas, which stocks her exclusively in Ireland. Might I suggest a clever option here: step forward and book an appointment with one of BT's make-up artists and, armed with a gift voucher, your leading lady can buy what is recommended for her skin tone and the look she wants to achieve.
If you are buying big and bright, and you are in the market for a diamond ring, Seamus Fahy of Voltaire Diamonds (30 South King Street, Dublin 2) has a policy of giving you cash back as a refund - not a voucher or credit note. Romantic men are often worried about Christmas proposals in case the girl doesn't like the ring, so this is a handy one to know about.
If you don't have time for the big romantic gesture, just taking time out to find a signed book by their favourite author will be well received. I know that Easons shops in Dundrum, Swords and Liffey Valley have a healthy supply of signed copies of Donal Skehan's popular new cookery book, Fresh, costing €19.99.
For the man who has everything, might I suggest getting him a bespoke hat, a made-to-measure one-off by the second-generation Dublin milliner, John Shevlin, (email@example.com).
John has been making hats for leading Irish couturiers for years and you can view his hats online or buy from him at Cows Lane Designer Studio, Pudding Row, Essex Street West, which is up beside Christchurch Cathedral. His most popular hats are his wool felt and fur felt trilbys which start at €75, and if you buy one for Christmas, and it does not fit, bring it back and John will make a made to measure hat. Sounds like a good deal to me and an ideal gift for someone who likes to go horse racing.
If you are visiting a house where they are especially fond of their dog, why not spoil them too with a bowwowbox, a subscription service that delivers a new treat every month. And for cats, check out meowbox.com, brimming with yummy cat treats and fun toys.
If your loved one is a travel buff, then just buy them a new weekend case (€30 for a four-wheeler at Penneys). Put that under the tree and then enjoy the pleasure of booking flights with them together on Christmas night.
If you only have half-an-hour in town but you want to make it look like you went to an awful lot of trouble when it comes to stocking fillers, might I recommend getting a personalised jar of Nutella hazelnut spread.Guaranteed to bring a smile out on the face of small kids (and big kids too), there is a printing service available in Brown Thomas stores in Dublin and Cork and the personalised 400g jar costs €5.50.
Time-honoured pressies like book tokens are always a winner along with spa breaks and restaurant vouchers.
And by the way lads, buying unreturnable red lingerie at 4pm on Christmas Eve is never a good idea!