LYNN CROOK, SELFRIDGES’ BUYING MANAGER FOR CHILDRENSWEAR AND TOYS, ON HOW TO SHOP

Q.Should you blitz the shops at once or pace yourself?
A.A blitz could mean one big manic, fun-filled day with plenty of treats to break it up and make it a great day out. The very organised among you might want to pace yourself, though.

Q.What are your top tips for not getting overwhelmed?
A.Listen and lists: most friends and family make very subtle hints of what they want. Lists impose some much-needed order on what could be a bit of a wild dash. 

Q.Who should you shop for first: kids? Parents? Loved ones?
A.No preference there. My only advice is that if the product has a lead time or is the “hot” item for the year, grab it first. Also think about whether you’ll need to sneak big items in. Do you have a good hiding place – especially from kids?

Q.Are there any alternatives to braving the hordes on Oxford Street?
A.Don’t forget to look locally – a lot of residential areas in London have their own special character and some very good little shops indeed. The other alternative, of course, is to shop online. You can browse Selfridges online 24/7, which I love.

Q.What are your favourite mid-shop breaks?
A.I love Starbucks: simple but classic and a great pick-me-up, particularly if the queue moves quickly. A hot chocolate mid-shop is the ideal break. I also like Molton Brown to browse and try all the lovely samples.
Q.How important is presentation – should everything be wrapped?
A.Presentation is key, from handmade gift-wrap to beautiful gift boxes. After all, we all love the discovery of what's hidden beneath, and above all, it shows you care. You can have almost as fun with wrapping and presentation as you can with what’s inside, I say.

Q.Any secrets for busting the central London crowds?
A.Many shops in central London (including Selfridges) extend their hours for Christmas shopping. The later you go, the thinner the crowds. Obviously the ideal is to skip weekends, but most of us don’t have that luxury. Don’t forget about lunchbreaks: try taking yours a bit earlier or later than normal to avoid the rush.