However, if you're the sort of person who comes out in a cold sweat at the thought of all that shopping, never mind spending, rest assured that bottle-shaped gifts are not a Christmas cop-out.

For the last few years my lucky sister has received a dozen bottles of wine from her in-laws - ostensibly to drink on Christmas Day (and beyond, unless she's really thirsty). This is a great gift, not least because you can usually organise for such things to be delivered on the day of your choosing - cutting out all that tedious stomping around the shops and lugging heavy bottles across barren carparks.

If you want to go down this route, Marks & Spencer have some lovely wine hampers - such as the Christmas Dinner Collection (£100) - which comprises two bottles of the excellent Bluff Hill sparkling wine, two of Macon Milly-Lamartine, two of Baron de Poce Sauvignon Blanc, two of Cotes du Ventoux and two of Chateau Panchille Bordeaux Superieur, plus a bottle of Hermits Hill Botrytis Semillion and one of Finest Reserve Port.

Visit to check out their other offerings.

For the real wow factor, Berry Bros have a superlative selection of gifts and hampers. For the ultimate in grand gesture - possibly only for those who've never heard the words 'credit crunch' - you can't beat the Chairman's Collection. A tidy £1,500 buys you 16 bottles of legendary wines and rare spirits (including 1988 Veuve Clicquot Rare Vintage Champagne, 1971 Glenlivet Single Speyside Malt, a host of Grand Cru burgundies and Premier Cru Sauternes, among others), all contained in a crocodile leather-effect trunk. It's one to think about when your Lotto numbers come up, perhaps.

In the meantime, Berrys' Half Bottle Collection, £66.50 (a dozen half bottles of Berrys' favourites, presented in a Berrys' box) or the Champagne and Chocolate Set, £44 (Berrys' United Kingdom Cuvee Champagne, Grand Cru, and a box of Skelligs chocolate vanilla truffles) are a nice way to introduce a bit of luxury into the big day.

If you can't make it into the iconic St James' store, Berrys also take orders by phone (0870 900 4300), email ( or fax (0870 900 4301). For more inspiration, visit Orders must be received by December 19 to be delivered in time for Christmas.

Blokes who fancy themselves as cocktail whizzes might appreciate the Smirnoff Red Ultimate Cocktail Kit - a chic but ever-so manly set that includes a bottle of Smirnoff vodka, a cocktail shaker, a metal fruit knife and strainer, four glasses and a chopping board. It's available from Selfridges and Whisky Specialists stores, RRP £50.

Or, if he's nautically-minded and likes a wee dram, treat him to a gift pack of Talisker whisky that supports the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). Each pack - a 10-year-old bottle of the award-winning Scotch presented in a blue nautical case - costs £27.99 at Sainsbury's stores, with £2 from sale going to the RNLI.

If you'd rather spend a lot less - and let's face it, who wouldn't - one of the best things you can do is choose a bottle of your favourite wine and attach a homemade voucher that entitles the recipient to share it with you at a suitable later date. My suggestion is a bottle of a classy Spanish sparkler, Codorniu Reina Maria Cristina Cuvee (£17.99 at Majestic) with an invitation to breakfast in bed.

DRINK THIS: If it hadn't been for the lovely people at, I would have found buying presents much harder last year.

This fantastic website is one of the best I've found - it's easy to search, has a brilliant range of beautifully-presented gifts and offers an excellent delivery service.

Whether you want to buy a selection of Christmas wines or just a single bottle, this site takes all the hassle out of it. They are accepting Christmas and New Year orders up until midnight on Monday December 15, for delivery until Wednesday December 24. But it's best to get your order in early to avoid disappointment - you can also stipulate the delivery day on your order.

I'm asking Santa for the magnum of Billecart Salmon Brut Rose - which comes in a silk-lined box for £95 - but I'd happily settle for a bottle of my favourite Cloudy Bay Pelorus sparking wine, which comes in a pine box for the more wallet-friendly £19.95. Happy shopping!