Christmas countdown under way

The weather is getting colder, the nights longer, the TV shows altogether cosier: The unstoppable juggernaut of Christmas must be slowly but surely heading our way.

Many people's thoughts turn to Christmas trees as the nights darken

Shops are beginning to fill their shelves with tinsel and trees, and it won't be long until Slade's Merry Xmas Everybody is drifting out of their doors and onto frosty streets populated by coffee-clutching crowds.

In fact, a casual enquiry to a workmate over weekend activities revealed that the Christmas shopping procession was under way for many. The city centre she'd visited had 'bustled' with people wrapped up warm against the blustery weather, and that's before you consider the many at home in the warm, shopping online.

Supporting these reports are figures from the HSBC Christmas Spending Survey. The poll showed that Britons plan on spending an average of £560 on Christmas 2011. Around 50% of those questioned said the total present spend would be the same as last year's, so who knows? Perhaps that Nintendo DS will be winging its way to you after all.

Immediate family members will be bought gifts totalling £378, on average. Food, drink and entertainment will account for the remaining £183, the poll found.

However, what sort of gifts will people be sneakily sizing up beneath the tree on Christmas Eve? Well, that all depends on what floats the boat of those on your shopping list. For instance, plenty of iPad tablets are likely to be snapped up by people shopping for gadget lovers; and those who can't get enough of watching the match on Sky HD may well be dreaming of HDTVs.

But how do people plan on getting together the cash for presents? For more than three quarters (78%), good old-fashioned saving was the answer, with many people dusting off the piggy bank. These figures could bring on some premature panic, however a tablet computer can help keep you organised in the weeks ahead with a handy calendar app always an option.

Anyway, whether you're one of the ultra-prepared people already getting ready for Christmas or a straggler planning on putting it off until the last possible minute, there's no escaping the fact it's on its way. The coming weeks will be like a festive rollercoaster, casually getting faster as we hurtle ever closer to the mince pie-eating, carol singing, Del Boy-watching, present-opening feast.

Are you ticking things off your Christmas list already? Comment below…