So many relatives to buy things (they don't really want) for, so little time. With only four shopping days left until the annual family row, trying to find time to sort yourself out so you'll at least look good while your siblings lay into you is added hassle. It's at this time of year that anything promising to give my appearance an instant boost comes into its own.
Clarins's Beauty Flash Balm has become a bestseller purely on this basis. As a devotee, I can tell you it's a well-earned reputation. Unlike many of the "instant radiance" products about, Beauty Flash Balm doesn't contain stray white pigments that show up annoyingly on black skin. If it's a slightly deeper, but equally effective (and quick), treatment you're after, Philosophy's The Great Mystery and The Greatest Love - a one- and three-minute facial and scrub - are perfect, as is Radiant Glow Express Mask, by Sisley. All can be applied before the shower and will have done their thing by the time the water is hot. The two from Philosophy can also be used together; I've managed to get them down to three and a half minutes, which ain't half bad for a new, improved face.
If it's the skin on the rest of you that's in need of attention (dimples where you'd rather not have them, annoying little spots that won't go away, etc), a regular going-over with a body brush is vital. It gets sluggish circulation going and, as long as you use a good moisturiser afterwards, puts paid to grey winter skin.
If the bags under your eyes are bothering you (why do certain relatives think you want to hear how "tired" you look?), SK-II's Eye Treatment Film is great for tackling puffiness, handy for when you've been reduced to a snivelling wreck over the dinner table. Keep it in the fridge next to the vodka for emergencies.
And for my final trick, it has to be the new One Minute Manicure (£14.99 gift pack; to order, 0800 073 0430). This left my hands super-smooth, perfect for acquiring, "Oooh, haven't you got lovely soft hands" comments from doddery old aunts... not that my aunts are either old or doddery.