Spendthrift on the sofa.
Last minute shopping doesn't have to be the manic and depressing experience most would have you believe. Although many mail order companies listed last Thursday as their final order date for Christmas deliveries, we have tracked down a few who are willing to take orders today, tomorrow and Monday, and will make sure the goods arrive in time for Christmas. With our guide all you need to do is make a pot of coffee (or better still crack open a bottle or wine), settle yourself by the telephone and have your credit card to hand. One word of warning: placing orders so close to Christmas means that postal delivery will be impossible so you will be paying for express or courier services; these charges will vary from company to company and depend on the distances involved.

Boden Catalogue and Mini Boden, 0181-453 1535 or fax 0181-453 1536. Last orders 3pm today.

Clothes always make good presents and Boden are offering up to 25 per cent off on selected items: beautiful French Collar wool cardigans in lime green, hot orange or charcoal are now pounds 58 (down from pounds 68), and luxurious heavy silk shirts (five different colours) which were pounds 72, are now only pounds 58. For men there are bright woven silk ties at pounds 29 (down from pounds 36), or cotton car coats with fleecy linings for pounds 85.

The Mini Boden (from 0-12 years) catalogue contains plenty of items which would make great kids presents. Knotted stripy pull-on hats are particularly nice and great value at pounds 6. If you want something more substantial try the corduroy jackets with padded tartan linings, pounds 30-34. In the main the clothes are comfy and functional and most are machine washable. As with the adult range all occasions are catered for: party clothes through to cosy nighties and pyjamas.

If you are not sure about what to get the sales team will be able to advise you. And if you get it wrong, Boden are happy to arrange refunds.

Johnny Loves Rosie, 0171-435 0089; fax 0171-794 0534. Last orders by 5pm today

If you are looking for a teenager's stocking fillers then Johnny Loves Rosie, a company that specialises in accessories, is the place to start. The stock is mostly imported from America and is very strong on hair accessories. Wonderful hair slides encrusted with varnished Liquorice Allsorts (pounds 10.95) are typical of the look they promote. The company is also big on fake flowers, offering huge roses in improbable colours attached to hair slides (pounds 7.50-pounds 16.95). Glitter also features heavily - sparkly Alice bands from pounds 10-24. Their new catalogue includes nail-files printed with tropical fruit, lips, roses, chili peppers and sunflowers (pounds 2.50) and last year they launched red and black patent leather shoulder bags for carrying bottled water (pounds 12.95).

The General Trading Company, 0171-730 7220; fax 0171-823 4626

You could buy presents for the whole family here. Stock ranges from the trinket/gifty end of the market (ceramic pumpkin trinket pot, pounds 6.95; silver plate beehive candle holder, pounds 99; spice scented mug mats, pounds 11.95 for four) through to jolly things for children (watch with Monopoly strap, pounds 14; Emma Bridgewater initial mugs, pounds 9.75; giraffe height chart, pounds 28). Kitchen gadgets include useful things like saucepans or corkscrews as well as fun items like heavy-duty rubber gloves with gingham cuffs and decorated plastic strawberries.

Scent Direct, 01428 654575. Last orders 23rd December.

Perfume costs about the same as a bunch of flowers, smells as good and lasts much longer. The company has access to over 700 different perfumes and all arrive beautifully giftwrapped with a handwritten message. Scent Direct also operates a search service which is particularly useful should you want to buy someone a new perfume. Simply let the sales team know what your friend usually wears, and they will identify perfumes with the same top, middle and base notes.

Red Letter Days, 0181-343 8822. Last orders 12 noon, Tuesday 24th.

Red Letter Days is a company that boasts over 200 alternative gift "experiences", few of which are for the faint hearted. All the obvious things are here: a day's ballooning, from pounds l45-pounds 225; parascending, pounds 25 for a ride, pounds 75 for a half-day course; and of course Bungee jumping, pounds 59. But there are lots of other really unusual and fun options too. What about buying your granny a Llama trek in west Sussex (pounds 59) or your brother an hour-long Microlight flight (pounds 99)? If you can't make up your mind you can always buy a voucher, from pounds 39 to pounds l,250 which will allow the receiver to choose what they want to put themselves through.

Ocean catalogue, 0800-132985; fax 0171-498 8898. Last orders 12.30pm, 23rd December.

Ocean is a stylish home accessories catalogue and although it is targeted at adults, there are one or two items which would suit teenagers and children: brightly coloured or animal print storage boxes, pounds 6.95-pounds 10.95; kids pyjamas (from pounds 17.95). For older friends and family the choice is much wider. At the top end of the scale there are plenty of things for people with extravagant tastes - Alessi kettle (pounds 69.95), Acca Kappa Travel Kit (pounds 69). At the other extreme there are lots of well-priced items, many of which look rather more expensive than they are, for those less demanding souls - set of six shot glasses (pounds 13.95); silver plated memo pad (pounds 9.95); silver- plated wine stoppers (pounds 9.95).

Bates Gentlemen's Hatters, 0171-734 2722. Last orders Monday 23rd.

If you're having problems finding a present for a troublesome older male, a hat or cap of some description may well be the answer. Although Bates is one of the few places where you could buy a curly brim bowler or a top hat, their best sellers are flat caps and baker's boy caps. The assistants will be able to talk you through the different styles: deerstalkers, Fedoras, Homburgs, toppers, bowlers, boaters, and many more. Prices from around pounds 38 to pounds 120.

Panzers, 0171-722 1496/8162 or 0171-435 0165; fax 0171-586 0209. Last orders: 1pm 23rd December for nationwide delivery; 7pm 23rd for London.

Hampers are always well received, and the ones from Panzers are particularly imaginative. The Italian hamper (pounds 100) is a glossy green hat box filled with Italian goodies including white truffle oil, figs in chocolate, panforte, palma ham. The London hamper (pounds 60) includes smoked salmon, stilton, Merlot 1995, shortbread and other delicious things all squeezed into a traditional wicker basket. Although only pounds 45, the Boxing Day hamper conforms best to my idea of what a hamper should be about: a labour saving though indulgent meal. It comes in a wicker basket and includes a bottle of sauvignon, smoked salmon, cocktail blinis, stilton and Ackermans chocolate truffles.

The Food Ferry, 0171-498 0827; fax 0171-498 8009. Last orders 10.30am, 23rd

This is London's mail order supermarket and the company rapidly comes into its own around this time of year. Imagine: you are holed up with the relatives, and more have been spotted on the horizon and you realise that you forgot to buy brussels sprouts/cranberry sauce/Bath Olivers/Tonic water. They won't get you out of a turkey crisis but if you find yourself playing unexpected host this Christmas, give them a call and they should be able to ease you out of a tight spot.

The following delivery companies will all be operating as normal on Monday and Tuesday, but call to check cut-off times for booking couriers. They all warn that Monday will be a very busy day.

Red Star: 0345 000000

TNT: 0181-961 9393

DHL international: 0345 100300