IF YOU HAVEN'T finished Christmas shopping, you'd better get cracking. There are only three more days, including today, to pick up that perfectly chosen gift for your friend or loved one, wrap it beautifully and put it under the tree. If your friends are foodies, shopping is a cinch. The Hong Kong economy is in the doldrums and people are cutting back on non-essentials. So when buying gifts, think of things your friends will want, but would consider an extravagence to buy for themselves. I'd be extremely grateful if I opened my fridge on Christmas day and found gifts of Iranian caviar, glass jars of foie gras from France, or bottles of my favourite tipple, champagne. You can do some one-stop shopping for these at Oliver's (tel: 2869 5119) and Great (tel: 2918 9986, ask for customer service). You might also want to give mother-of-pearl caviar spoons (caviar reacts to metal, giving it an odd taste) - they're $45 each at Inside in the Prince's Building (shop 231, tel: 2537 6298). Put everything in a wicker basket and you have a personalised, expensive Christmas hamper without all the extraneous stuff like ham, smoked salmon, fruitcake and mince pies. One gift that I've always had great success with is shot glasses. For whatever reason, this seems to be one item that people rarely buy for themselves. If you've ever tried to drink vodka or tequila shots out of regular glasses, you'll see that it doesn't have quite the same aesthetic impact, even though the results are the same. Lane Crawford has a good selection of shot glasses, starting at around $70 each. A nicely wrapped box of six or eight with a bottle of flavoured vodka would make a welcome gift. More sophisticated drinkers will better appreciate a bottle of single-malt whisky with the appropriate glasses, also available at Lane Crawford or Joyce. Another thing people rarely buy for themselves are demitasse (or espresso) sets of cups and saucers. My extensive collection of various demitasse sets started from when a friend gave me a couple - a tactful hint that she was tired of drinking my espresso from regular coffee cups. With these tiny cups, demitasse spoons are essential because regular teaspoons look awkward next to them. They're sold at Lane Crawford. Cookbooks also make great gifts, but be careful about the subject matter. If you're a man and you give your girlfriend or wife a title such as Eat More, Weigh Less, Suzanne Somers' Eat, Cheat And Melt The Fat Away, or anything by Weight Watchers, you might find that you're ringing in the New Year alone. And, unless you're giving the book to your domestic helper (and I'm sure they would much rather have a gift of cash), don't choose a cookbook that's too practical - no The Joy Of Cooking, please. Instead, concentrate on large, coffee-table varieties with great pictures. I really like the series that includes Italy: The Beautiful, France: The Beautiful and China: The Beautiful. Page One in Central and Times Square have titles, available for $500. Gifts for foodies don't have to cost a lot. A good hardware store can be an excellent hunting ground. Most carry small propane torches, the best tool for caramelising creme brulee. One of the hot new kitchen tools in the United States is a simple, inexpensive rasp, which cooks use for grating parmesan and zesting citrus fruits. Rasps with different sized 'teeth' are sold at all hardware stores. Every time I visit Shanghai Street, I enjoy it so much I wonder why I don't go more often. Perhaps it's best not to - the cupboards of my tiny kitchen are too full for any more of the restaurant-quality pots and pans I covet, but which are not absolutely essential. Home cooks with larger kitchens will like the stainless steel fish poachers, metric and imperial weight balance scales (especialy good for those who make a lot of pastry) and fine-meshed strainers. This isn't fancy stuff (for that, go to PanHandler in Prince's Building, tel: 2523 1672, where you can buy wonderful copper bowls and pots). Shanghai Street is best for shopping for the serious home cook or professional. My favourite shop is Chan Chi Kee Cutlery Co (316-318 Shanghai Street, tel: 2385 0317), which has almost everything I want, including instant-read thermometers (for tempering chocolate), candy thermometers, scales, pastry cutters and pans. It's also the place to buy hand-pounded woks, according to cookbook writer Grace Young, whose next book is about woks. (To get to Shanghai Street, get off at Yau Ma Tei stop on the MTR and take Exit C.) And for a gift that will be appreciated all year, try a magazine subscription. Two of my favourite gifts from last year were subscriptions to Saveur (eight issues for US$45.95, or HK$358, including overseas air postage, www.saveur.com ) and the amazingly learned quarterly food journal, Gastronomica (US$34 for 12 months plus $20 overseas air postage, www.gastronomica.org ).