(Pocket-lint) - Christmas shopping can be a nightmare, especially if you leave it too late and have to rely on heaving high streets to find last minute gifts.
It's why many of us have turned to online shopping to simplify the process. But, even then, it's inevitable that those essential deliveries will arrive while you're out - at work, picking up the kids from school or just generally unavailable.
Never fear. Some of the major retailers offer alternative ways for you to get your online purchase. You no longer have to leave a note saying leave it in the bin shed or ask a neighbour kindly to keep hold of it for you until you get back. Instead, you can collect your item(s) on your way to or returning from work.
So here's some of the options online retailers offer that will help you get your packages without having to stay in all day...
eBay Click & Collect
eBay offers a Click & Collect service across Argos, Sainsbury's and up to another 3,500 stores up and down the UK. Thousands of sellers on the online auction site are signed up the scheme, so that when you order something from them you can choose your most convenient store to pick it up from. When your parcel is ready for collection, you will receive an email and/or text message telling you that you can come in to get it.
The message will have a collection code that you need to show the helper in store and that's about it. Simple.
Free delivery is available on millions of items, while some also offer express delivery to get them to the stores faster.
Argos Click & Collect
Argos itself also offers a Click & Collect service, and not just in its own stores around the UK.
Thanks to a partnership with Sainsbury's, you can pick up Argos bought items from a local Sainsbury's nearest you. You can check out the store locator on Argos' own website, which lists both Argos and participating Sainsbury's locations in your area.
Amazon Lockers and Pickup collection
Amazon UK has several ways of receiving packages when you are not in, including at Underground stations. There are Amazon Lockers at Finchley Central and Newbury Park Tube stations - in their respective car parks. There are other lockers dotted around too.
Amazon also has its own Click & Collect service, with thousands of Pickup locations dotted around the country. You can order an item on a one-day delivery and opt to have it delivered to a Pickup address near you.
Amazon and Royal Mail
Amazon has also struck a deal with the Royal Mail to use all of its 10,500 Post Office locations around the country as Pickup points.
Free deliveries to Post Office locations are available to Prime subscribers, with non-members charged First Class delivery.
John Lewis Click & Collect and Collect+
John Lewis runs a Click & Collect service for ordering online too. If you order an item by 8pm you are able to collect it from a designated store by 2pm the day after. That includes both branches of John Lewis and select Waitrose supermarkets.
This is a free service. However, you can also have an item delivered to a Collect+ shop for an additional £3.50 if one of those is closer. There are 5,500 Collect+ shops around the country and you will be able to pick up an item the next day if you order it online by 2pm.
You can find a Collect+ store near you here.
If you don't want to order your goods from any of the above, you can always Doddle them.
Doddle is a service that will deliver parcels ordered from any online retailer to one of several Doddle shops around the country. You can use an iPhone app to check out when your parcel is ready to collect or can be sent a code directly if you use a different kind of device.
You just need to put an alternative address when you check out after shopping online and choose a Doddle shop nearby, along with your name and Doddle account number.
Find out more at Doddle's dedicated website.