Wish me luck, I'm off to do the 'big shop' tomorrow - with the other half. We've managed to squeeze in one day between now and Christmas when he can get a day's holiday and I can be away from home for the whole school day!
Time was, when we could leave the girls with my parents and make a long day of it, with a sit down lunch at the Guildhall in Worcester, maybe even afternoon tea, and a stroll into the Cathedral to calm our pre-Christmas nerves. But now that's not an option, and we have school hours to contend with too.
So tomorrow we will do the Leicester dash. Leicester being the other half's native city, he likes to make an annual pilgrimage to the city centre in search of the Christmas presents. What this actually means is a couple of hours in the car, finding one or two gifts, spending longer in the cheap electronics shop - hold me back - then rushing back down the M1.
And of course what that really means is that after tomorrow, I'll still have a list as long as your arm of other people to buy for, but the other half will think that the Christmas Shopping 'has been done' and will have mentally 'ticked it off'.
Never mind, I do quite like the chance to spend the day together, and although we probably won't get much done, at least I can have a real browse around and hopefully make notes about what to buy on other days, when I'll go off on my own.
Part of my problem is that I don't like to start the Christmas hype too early. What that ends up meaning is that I have to get everything done in a very short space of time and too often a spanner comes winging over curtesy of a sick child who needs a couple of days off school, at exactly the time I'd planned to do the critical shopping trips.
The other small problem is that for some reason, lots of our friends decided to have children around this time, so I end up having to think of birthday and Christmas presents at the same time. It's hard enough shopping for your own offspring, let alone other people's - who you probably haven't seen for a year and have no idea what they're into, or what they already have. This year I've decided to be kind to myself and ditch the guilt. They'll all get a gift voucher.
So that's it, I'm just going to dig out the present list from last year and fill up the hip flask. It helps to be prepared.