WITH just a few days to go until Christmas and the recession threatening our festive cheer, The Bolton News decided to find out if it was possible to buy last-minute stocking fillers for the whole family on a budget of just £20.

I headed off to the Salvation Army shop in Newport Street — probably one of Bolton’s biggest charity shops — to see if I could unearth any bargains.

Although “Queen of Shops” Mary Portas might have launched a campaign to overhaul the image of charity shops, they are still widely regarded as full of rubbish, but there was a surprising amount of choice available, and the staff were more than happy to help.

For the Doctor Who-loving dad, what could be more fun than a Tardis with opening doors, motion-activated sound effects and flashing lights? Just the thing to keep any big kid entertained while the turkey’s roasting. Retailing on Amazon at a whopping £48.99, the Salvation Army price is just £4.99.

For a daughter or niece, new-in was a Moxie doll, hailed as the new Bratz doll. The recommended retail price is £10.99, but in the Salvation Army it cost just £2.99. Both toys were in sealed boxes and in perfect condition.

A rack of brand new Simpsons t-shirts caught my eye — perfect for that mischief-making nephew, and just £2.50. An elegant photo frame would make the perfect present for Gran with the addition of a family photo, and a sports quiz for Grandad will keep the whole family happy.

And for Mum, David Beckham’s autobiography (complete with plenty of photos) is just £1.35. There was also a small selection of jewellery, and I was told that had I been a few weeks earlier I could have chosen from High Street name beauty gift boxes at a fraction of their RRP.

Staff at the Newport Street school say that although this Christmas has been quieter than previous years, the best bargains fly out of the door almost as soon as they hit the shelf, so it’s worth popping in every time you pass. And of course after Christmas, donating to charity is the perfect way to pass on those pressies that maybe weren’t quite so perfect.

Staff at the Bolton Salvation Army store say they are particularly desperate for furniture, which they can collect, although upholstery must be checked for fire safety.

For more information on how to donate, ring 01204 527624.

kdibbits@the boltonnews.co.uk