Last-Minute Gift Ideas

With Plenty of Time to Spare

Holiday-Gifts-headEvery holiday season, no matter how early we start, there are always those panic-induced “uh-oh’s” that pop up at the very last minute. When one of those things is searching for a present, the stress can really take the joy out of giving. But you don’t have to settle for the dreaded options typically found at the checkout lane of the commissary. Should you find yourself empty-handed with only a few hours to spare before the gift exchange, here are some excellent ideas that will make you look like you’ve had it handled since Thanksgiving.

Subscription Services

This is a truly last-minute option, and one that’s growing in popularity. Some good choices include cosmetic and beauty samples from Birchbox, healthy snacks from Naturebox, exotic spices from Raw Spice Bar, and even monthly treats and toys for dogs from BarkBox. If you have a good sense of the recipient’s interests, a subscription service is sure to be a hit.

Make a Donation

Not every gift has to be material. For the friend with a big heart, consider making a donation in their name to a cause they care about. 

Go the Beverage Route

Making a beverage package is an easy choice, and one that will go over well. The key to making it not seem last minute is selecting the items yourself, not grabbing a pre-packaged gift basket.

For the wine lover – if you think you have a handle on your friend’s taste in wine, pick up a mid-range bottle of their preferred variety and pair it with a cute bottle stopper, opener or other wine accessory.

For the coffee drinker – pick out some whole beans with an origin story that piques your interest. You could even do a sampler package to offer some variety. 

For the craft beer enthusiast – visit a liquor store with a nice beer selection and pick out an interesting 22 oz. bottle, or “bomber.” Add a nice beer stein, coaster set or bottle opener and wrap it up.

For the tea guru – tea infusers and unique steepers are now widely available, usually for less than $20. Add a nice whole-leaf tea, and your shopping is done.

Personal Care Products

If you do end up at CVS searching for a present, skip the holiday section and look for small, high-end personal care products like perfumes, cleansers or lotions. For guys, pick up some beard oil or cologne.

Home Decor

If you have time for a trip to a retail store, a cute throw pillow, picture frame, plant or candle makes an easy last-minute gift.

Gift Cards

This one is obvious, but won’t be unappreciated. Who wouldn’t like an extra $20 to spend at Starbucks or Best Buy?

Bento Lunch Boxes

Got a friend who likes to bring their lunch? Bento boxes are stackable Japanese lunch boxes that keep your food compartmentalized. They’re also pretty darn cute. In fact, there are now entire books devoted to packing bento box lunches.

Fitness Accessories

A new yoga mat, stretch band, reusable water bottle, or ear buds are good picks for friends who like to work out.

Travel Case

Everyone needs a little travel case to keep their essential items organized and accessible.

Bar Starter Kit

Cocktail shakers and strainers that come with basic bar tools make a nice gift for the budding mixologist in your life, and can usually be found for less than $20. Add a cocktail recipe book for the perfect package.


You can’t go wrong with a nice pair of gloves, a toasty scarf, a new wallet, some quirky socks, or hip sunglasses. And the one-size-fits-all factor helps you avoid awkward exchanges.

So if you’re running out of time and you still have gifts to buy, don’t panic. With a little creativity, you can find a gift that wows — and no one has to know you procrastinated.


About the author: Alex Williamson

Alex Williamson is a writer and editor, the sister of a military mom and the daughter and granddaughter of veterans. She studied creative writing in Kansas City, and is currently living in New York.



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