Five last-minute Christmas presents

If you still don't know what to get for that special someone this Christmas, don't panic. Merryn Somerset Webb tips five ideas for last-minute gifts that keep on giving.

If you haven't finished buying presents, what do you do? Most of us rush to the nearest shop and buy any old tat just to be sure we have something, anything to hand over. But before you do that this year, you might think about swapping the tat for something with some long-term value instead. There isn't much more effort involved, but over the long term there'll be much more gain.

For tiny children you might start with a piggy bank get them into the habit early. But grandparents and godparents might go a step further and open a Jisa (junior individual savings account) for anyone under 18 who doesn't have a child trust fund. Do it through a cheap provider and put low-cost investment trusts into it and it might end up being the gift that keeps on giving (see

For a young adult, The Times suggests an hour with a good financial planner, one that charges a reasonable fee rather than commission per product sold. Most of us ramble through our financial lives with no set strategy. It wouldn't be a bad thing to have one young. If that all seems to be somewhat lacking in Christmas feel, you might pick up a gold coin or two for children you really like. You can get a quarter sovereign for under £100 and while it might seem like a shiny bit of fun to a ten-year-old today, given the state of the global monetary system, odds are it will seem like rather more a decade hence.

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Otherwise there's still time to pop to the shops for a bit of second-hand (vintage') jewellery. This is a good idea as vintage is cheaper than new, and generally rather higher quality: you're getting superior craftsmanship chucked in for free. Prices have risen in the last few years, but still aren't out of the reach of most pockets.

Angela Linforth of Homes and Antiques magazine tells The Times that the best things to look for if you are after an investment piece are Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau pieces "with a strong design element" that can be attributed to a known maker. She is also keen on natural pearls and unusual diamonds and notes that right now "even good Eighties work from names such as Bulgari" can be a good place to put money.

If you have a spare hour in town on Christmas Eve, look to the antique market in general. We've written here before that brown furniture (Victorian and Georgian) appears to have hit bottom in price terms. It is too late for the auctions, but you might still get a deal in your local antique shop: everyone wants to clear stock before Christmas.

Merryn Somerset Webb

Merryn Somerset Webb started her career in Tokyo at public broadcaster NHK before becoming a Japanese equity broker at what was then Warburgs. She went on to work at SBC and UBS without moving from her desk in Kamiyacho (it was the age of mergers).

After five years in Japan she returned to work in the UK at Paribas. This soon became BNP Paribas. Again, no desk move was required. On leaving the City, Merryn helped The Week magazine with its City pages before becoming the launch editor of MoneyWeek in 2000 and taking on columns first in the Sunday Times and then in 2009 in the Financial Times

Twenty years on, MoneyWeek is the best-selling financial magazine in the UK. Merryn was its Editor in Chief until 2022. She is now a senior columnist at Bloomberg and host of the Merryn Talks Money podcast -  but still writes for Moneyweek monthly. 

Merryn is also is a non executive director of two investment trusts – BlackRock Throgmorton, and the Murray Income Investment Trust.