The holiday season is very much upon us, and you’re still stuck on a special gift for someone on your list? Here are some last-minute gift ideas you’re welcome to steal.
We get it: you’re a very busy person. Christmas shopping takes time and brainstorming for gift ideas often leaves you drawing blanks. Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. Christmas can still be saved, even if you’re reading this on Christmas Eve! Whether it’s for your dad (who has everything) or the friend you didn’t think to buy anything for (sorry, Emily), here are 10 safe bets for a present that feels like you put more thought into it than you did. Bonus: some of these gifts are so last-minute, they can even be bought online during your family holiday party while you’re hiding from your relatives in the bathroom.
Experiences usually make far more memorable gifts than objects. You can go big if this is for someone special like your spouse or your parents, or think smaller if it’s for a sibling or a friend.
Get them tickets to a concert they would enjoy, a day pass for a spa, a museum or zoo membership, tickets to a botanical garden or national park, or vouchers for travel (travel fare, and/or special accommodation in an Airbnb, glamping campground, or hotel.)
Best of all, if you organize an experience together, then you get to enjoy the gift as well!
2. Online classes
Not sure about booking in-person experiences in changeable times? Then go for a virtual experience instead! Sign them up for an online class so they can finally learn how to speak French, dance the tango, write their novel or cook like a pro—the options are endless. Check out Masterclass or Coursera for starters. Do they need a little relaxation? Buy them a subscription to a mindfulness or yoga app they can use at home. Arts lover? Get them tickets to a livestream concert or performance.
You can book this online at the very last minute — perfect for procrastinators.
3. Charitable donation in their name
Is there a social issue that your loved one is passionate about? Do they love animals or spending time in nature? Charitable gifts are a great way to honor a special person by helping those in need. Whether you choose to donate to the homeless in their area, refugees, or prefer to support animal welfare or natural conservation; your donation will be appreciated.
You can donate in a matter of minutes online. So if you’re on the way out to a holiday party and desperate for a present, you can’t go wrong by doing good!
4. A themed basket from your everyday shops
Compiling several small items into a themed gift elevates basic items into a thoughtful present. You can pick up these items when doing your weekly shopping—no extra errands needed.
- “Movie Night”: popcorn, candy, drinks. Add a few movie recommendations, a soft blanket, or some cozy socks or slippers to bring this gift up a notch.
- “Wine o’clock”: nice wine, chocolates, and nibbles. Add some wine glasses if you like.
- “Home Spa”: combine some bubble bath or bath salts (or use the ones you made from Tip #7), a nice hand or foot cream, a face mask, and a scented candle to make a home spa kit. Add a loofah, fluffy towel, bathrobe, or some slippers to round out the gift.
5. The last book you read and loved
Gifting a book you love is an invitation for a shared experience. Write them a note telling them what you loved about the book and inviting them to share their thoughts about it once they’ve read it. Bonus: support your local bookshops! If you’re short on time, give them a call to ask if they have your book in stock before you make the trip.
If you have time, pair it with a mug and some tea or cocoa from your local supermarket or a snuggly blanket, and you’ve created a cozy “cuddle up and read”-themed present.
6. Subscription to a magazine related to their interests
If you know the person has a certain hobby or interest—from art to cooking, cycling, or travel, there is sure to be a magazine subscription that would interest them. A few minutes of Googling and you’ll be able to sign them up for a year of interesting magazines. They’ll think of you each time it arrives!
7. A houseplant
Bring a little bit of greenery into their winter with a new houseplant. A quick stop at your local hardware store, flower shop, or garden center is all you need. Ask for a plant which is tolerant and easy to care for. Add a pretty pot and a sweet treat to complete the gift. Think it’s too generic? Give the plant a funny name and try to trick them into thinking they’re about to unwrap a new puppy.
8. Framed photo of a special shared memory
Personal gifts are always best. Just because you’re short on time doesn’t mean you can’t give something personal. Many drug stores and supermarkets allow you to print out photos instantly, directly from your phone—and most of them sell simple photo frames as well. Tick their Christmas gift off your list while you’re doing your normal errands.
If you have a bit more time, consider creating a photo gift such as a calendar, photo album, mug, T-shirt or pillowcase for your loved one—just be sure to check the delivery deadlines to be sure it arrives in time for Christmas.
9. Quick DIY: Bath Salts
DIYs don’t get much easier than this and you’ve probably got the ingredients lying around your house already. If not, then they’re easy to pick up next time you’re at the supermarket.
Easiest Bath Salts:
- 3 cups coarse salt: Epsom salts, pink Himalayan salt, sea salt, or Dead Sea salts all work. Or a mixture of all of them!
- ½ cup of baking soda for each jar of salts
- 20 drops of essential oil: try lavender, sweet orange, rose, etc. A quick google will give you lots of combination ideas.
- Optional: dried flowers to make it look pretty (loose leaf herbal tea works great here. Chamomile is readily available at most supermarkets)
- Optional: 2 spoonfuls of coconut or almond oil
10. Edible Gifts
Last but most delicious: Whether you’re a natural in the kitchen or not, edible gifts are always a safe option. Go for nicely packaged sweets, wines, or coffee at your local supermarket or whip something up in your kitchen.
If you’re willing to prepare something, then baked goods, cocoa mixes, or “recipe in a jar” kits are straightforward and crowd-pleasing gifts. Look for simple recipes using ingredients you already have to save time.
Looking for more gift ideas? Check out our Gift Guide, where you’re sure to find something for everyone on your list.