• Gadgets including Apple iWatch and Amazon Fire Stick expected to be in demand this festive season.
  • Christmas shopping started in earnest with discounted products for Black Friday.
  • Third of UK shoppers say they will spend more this year than in 2015.

Darth Vader, Jeremy Clarkson and astronaut Tim Peake might sound like the perfect fantasy Christmas dinner, but these are the names most likely to be found in stockings this year.

With three weeks left to wrap up their Christmas shopping, consumers are expected to rely on books, gadgets and toys to spread some festive cheer this year. However, most festive shoppers are planning on cutting back their spending.

Third of shoppers to loosen belt this year

One in three Christmas shoppers plan to buy more presents this festive season than last year, a survey has revealed.

Employment specialist Randstad UK asked 5,527 website visitors if they would spend more or less on Christmas presents this year.

In a sign of confidence at the cash till, almost 1,800 respondents (32%) said they would stuff more gifts into stockings than they did 12 months ago.

Overall consumer confidence was pegged back by the 32% of poll respondents who said they would put fewer presents under the tree this year. It means nearly two-thirds of shoppers (64%) are prepared to change their spending habits this Christmas, suggesting they have been impacted financially by events in 2016.

Seven per cent said they were going to spend the same as the Christmas before while 29% seemed prepared to leave it late to decide on presents and did not know what their budget was.

Mark Bull, chief executive of Randstad UK, said the survey results reflected a positive mood in the UK workforce. "An increase in consumer spending is a sign of a confident workforce and in this case a generous one, too.

Of course, there are shoppers who look out for early January sales and leave it late to decide how much they will spend. There are also those who set out cautiously but end up being swept up in the festivities and spending more than they planned.

"There has been a level of uncertainty since the vote to leave the European Union but if we keep Britain working and earning it will carry on spending."

IBTimes UK looks at some of this year's must-have gifts

Toy – Star Wars Lego (up to £1,500)

Lego 75099 Rey's Speeder
Lego has produced new Star Wars models to coincide with the release of Rogue One

With "Star Wars: Rogue One" on the horizon expect Disney, which now owns the franchise, to crank into overdrive with new merchandise. The space opera's range of Lego has been a major commercial success (with adults as well as children) over the years and that is set to continue this Christmas with new figurines.

Gadget – Fire TV stick (£33)

Amazon Fire TV stick
The Amazon Fire Stick also includes access to Prime Video Amazon

Billed as "the most powerful media stick", Fire TV offers users thousands of TV episodes and movies, from Amazon Video, Netflix and BBC iPlayer, including Clarkson's widely acclaimed motor series The Grand Tour.

Gadget - Apple Watch 2 (starting at £369)

Swimming with Apple Watch 2
The Apple Watch 2 is water-resistant, a first for Apple Apple

Released in November the Apple Watch 2 is more expensive than it's older sibling, but this is no runt of the litter. GPS has been added to the new incarnation as has waterproofing and speed.

Gadget - Drone (from £30)

DJI Phantom 4
The DJI Phantom 4 is one of the top-end drones available DJI

The scourge of planes, prisons and private land owners, drones may have their critics but when used properly (not to mention legally) they can capture breathtaking photography simply not possible from ground level.

Game – Pie Face Showdown (£15)

Pie Face Showdown
Pie Face Showdown splats whipped cream into a player's face Hasbro

It's not big and it's not clever, but Pie Face Showdown – which sees the losing player splat with a face-load of whipped cream – is guaranteed to squirt laughs.

Toy – Nerf N-Strike Mega Mastodon Blaster (from £60)

Nerf gun
The Nerf gun fires 24 missiles up to 30m

Nothing says Christmas cheer quite like pounding a family member into smithereens with an aerial bombardment of foam missiles.

This toy can launch attacks on unsuspecting victims 30m away with motorised firing capabilities that make it perfect for tireless youngsters and renegade grandparents alike.

Book – Hello, is this planet Earth? My View from the International Space Station (£10)

British astronaut Tim Peake dazzled social media with photos of Earth from the International Space Station and this book documents his time orbiting the planet, including the 150 photos he took.

Clothing – Men's slippers (various)

The quintessential gift from those who left it to the last minute, no Christmas is complete without a pair of slippers.