Express & Star

Toby Neal: My guide to last-gasp Christmas panic gifts

Looking for some last minute Christmas gift ideas? Then look no further. I am here to help.

There’s still time to buy wisely and be a Christmas hero

For Her: A cutlery set. For Him: A miniature screwdriver set.

With the former, there is nothing more useful than knives, forks, and spoons, and they will give years of service.

"You see," I tell my wife as I lay the table once more, "I knew that you would get to appreciate them in the end."

The cutlery set was a present to my wife on our first Christmas together. The way she tells it, she makes it sound as if it was the only present I gave her. As chance would have it, it was the last one she opened on Christmas Day, thinking it was her "big present".

It came in a handsome wooden box, and the shiny knives, forks, and spoons were, as knives, forks, and spoons go, of fine quality.

I cannot pretend that she said it was just what she had always wanted. And in the interests of full disclosure, I'd better mention that I was packed off to the shops as soon as they reopened to buy something for her which was similarly shiny but much less useful, in my humble opinion.

When it comes to buying for Him, have you noticed how all these electrical bibs and bobs these days have battery compartments which open with the tiniest screws which defeat normal sized screwdrivers?

This can lead to frustration. A miniature screwdriver set will solve all his problems and will stop him searching in the knife drawer for a knife with a sharp point which he can use to attempt to open said battery compartment, at the risk of snapping the point off.

Throw in some batteries – I recommend both AA and AAA sizes to cover all eventualities – and his joy will be complete.

There are mistakes to be wary of making, as it is easy to go wrong when choosing Christmas presents. In particular, beware of getting the obvious presents, and ignore any hints that your partner might appear to drop in the run-up to the festive season.

Take my late gran as an example. At some stage in her life, and I really do not know when it might have been, she must have said that she liked Turkish Delight. Or maybe it was just that we as children once observed her eating Turkish Delight.

No normal grandchild has the first idea of what to get their grandparents for Christmas, so you grab any clue you can. The upshot was that at Christmas we all got our gran Turkish Delight. She had boxes and boxes of the stuff, as obviously we wouldn't go cheap and get the little bars that come in the crimson wrappers.

She never complained. Well, you wouldn't – couldn't – would you?

I did have a relation, a great aunt or something like that whom I had never met and knew nothing about – as a child you do not pay great attention to such matters – who would always get me a present, typically socks, I seem to recall. When you are young these are not things you get excited about, but today I really like getting socks, slippers, and all that sort of stuff, so they too can be added to my recommended gift list.

My mum would always insist that we all sent handwritten thank-you letters, without fail, to everybody who had sent us gifts.

If my suggestions do not appeal, then Matt Hancock, the most popular politician in Britain vote-wise, has a book out, called Pandemic Diaries, a fascinating account of a difficult time with a wonderful hero at the centre of the story. Admittedly I haven't read it myself.

Your partner won't want to miss Harry and Meghan Part II, the series everybody is talking about, so if you haven't already got a Netflix subscription, now is the time to sign up.

For more inspiration, I've looked up online to see what were the most popular gifts at Christmas last year, and it turns out that topping the table were portable campfires.

I do have a feeling that it might be a glitch in my search settings, but good ideas are good ideas wherever they come from.