Are you planning for Christmas yet?

This year, more than ever, we’ll need to be on the front-foot for the festive season.

As international borders remain shut and state border closures continue, it’s possible our Christmas get-togethers with loved ones may be online in 2021; and that ongoing separation from our nearest and dearest is putting people in the mood to splurge.

Christmas cheer is high on everyone’s agenda this year, with Australians set to spend more than $11bn on presents, according to a survey by the Australian Retailers Association in conjunction with Roy Morgan.

Those who are wanting to shower the people they love with love, will need to get organised ASAP. Particularly, if they are overseas.

Australia Post’s cut-off date for parcels and letters travelling via sea mail has already passed and other deadlines are rapidly approaching.

The deadlines vary depending on the destination and the chosen delivery service and whether the delivery is being sent from a metropolitan area. If you’re outside a metro area you’ll need to allow even more time for your delivery to reach its destination.

Economy air parcels and letters to the UK and US and Canada need to be sent by November 16 and to China and Singapore by November 23, for instance.

The final date for standard parcels is November 26 for the UK; November 30 for the US and Canada, China and Singapore. The final deadlines – for courier parcels and letters – are December 3 for the UK and Canada; December 7 for the US; December 5 for China and December 7 for Singapore.

It’s important to check Australia Post’s international updates for the latest information.

Deliveries to multiple countries – including India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Korea – were suspended in September and it was only possible to send a letter, no parcels, to Ireland.

Anyone imagining online shopping is the answer still needs to think ahead.

Alongside the shift to WFH there has been an escalation in online shopping and the run-up to Christmas is likely to be busier than ever.

The Australian Retailers Association survey found just under 50 per cent of gifts were likely to be purchased online, with toys, jigsaw puzzles and board games topping the list of most popular presents, mentioned by 20 per cent of Australians.

With overseas supply issues potentially preventing gifts from reaching our shores by December 25, a lot of people are preferring to buy local. Many small businesses have soldiered on through lockdowns and this is your chance to reward them. Keep an eye out for the Buy Local Small Business Australia stickers, signage, and digital images and support local operators.

Check out the Australian Made website’s Aussie Made gift guide for everything from body products to luxury pillows that meet their standards.

Or do your present shopping on sites such as Buy from the Bush, which was set up in 2019 to support rural businesses through severe drought.

Local markets can be a wonderful source of handmade gifts or products created by people and businesses in your neighbourhood.

By buying local we can help ensure everyone has a merry Christmas!

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