It’s the final Christmas countdown

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Christmas Eve is now 30 days away and the countdown to the last shopping day before Christmas is under way.

The better-organised among us may have already prepared their Christmas pud, but there may still be time.

Traditionally ‘Stir up Sunday’ is the last Sunday before Advent - when parents teach their children how to make the pudding and everyone takes a turn mixing it up. But don’t forget that it’s stirred from East to West in honour of the journey of the Three Wise Men who visited the baby Jesus.

If you want to organise a work night out or gathering with friends, best get your (ice) skates on. Remember that the last weekend before Christmas starts on Friday December 18 . Of course, there’s the option of going out on a school night from the December 21, albeit with the attendant hangover at work the next day.

It’s never too early to buy gifts (filling station option notwithstanding), but for anyone unwilling to brave the shops close to the holidays, bear in mind that the last delivery dates for online shopping are around December 20 - the Money Saving Expert website has a comprehensive list. Of course, there’s always Black Friday on November 27 if you want to pick up some bargains...

In these days of electronic greeting and present shopping, the Christmas card may seem like an almost quaint greeting method to some, especially for far-away friends and relatives. Unfortunately you already missed cheap surface mail, sorry. Final airmail dates are as early as Friday December 4 for Africa and the Middle East, but there’s plenty of time to sort out cards for those closer to home.

For second class UK mail the final posting date is Saturday December 19, with first class two days later, on Monday December 21. And for any last-minute panic, signed for Special Delivery will still reach its destination on Wednesday December 23.