Nathan James Page
1. The online lazybones
Some people take the phrase 'It's the thought that counts' as a reminder of the meaning behind the act of giving; others as an excuse to buy their relatives any old tat. Alex falls into the latter category. He spent a total of 18 minutes on last year's festive shop, all done from his sofa in Streatham. Alex doesn't give a shit about supporting local indie shops or the worrying growth of a certain online shopping monolith. And he cares even less about whether you like your Christmas present.
2. The smug planner
Martin is good at Christmas shopping - very good. While most of us spend 11 carefree months not thinking about snowman wrapping paper, Martin is always planning for next year's tinsel-fest. Remember when you said in March that what you needed to make your kitchen complete was an Alessi Juicy Salif citrus squeezer? Or that the neighbour upstairs is partial to small-batch London dry gin? Martin does. Come Christmas Eve, when you're panic-buying novelty clementines, Martin is in the pub. The smug bastard.
3. The drunk
At this time of year, come 7pm on a Thursday, Janet reaches for one of the cans of M&S gin and tonic stashed in her desk drawer. The office is empty and she knocks back one, two, three in quick succession while finishing off November's invoicing. By 8pm she's ready: Oxford Street late-night shopping here she comes! Despite the frenzied atmosphere and the panicked faces, Janet glides through the maelstrom on an alcohol-infused cloud. Admittedly the results are a bit hit-and-miss but she's survived another year of this festive nonsense and she feels like a winner.
4. The last-minute chancer
Jeff has stumbled across what might be the best strategy for Christmas shopping ever: he gives it not a shred of thought until 10am on the morning of December 24. Bags packed and ready to head to the family fold in Bishops Stortford, he makes a small detour via Covent Garden on his way to the station. The streets have only a smattering of shoppers and the sales assistants are already merry on a bottle of Baileys they found in the stockroom. This is a breeze, thinks Jeff. What's everyone making such a fuss about?
5.The self-obsessed purchaser
Marisa embarks on Christmas shopping with the best of intentions. She heads straight to Liberty where she has in mind a Paisley tea towel for Granny Pam. But before she can reach third-floor kitchenware, all those good intentions evaporate like the fumes from a simmering pot of mulled wine. Marisa leaves two hours later with a gorgeous new Diptyque fragrance and a notebook embossed with a gold giraffe, both for... herself. Poor Granny Pam, maybe next year?
By Gail Tolley, who set out for Oxford Street three days ago and hasn't been seen since.
Illustrations: Nathan James Page