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When I was growing up, one of our annual Christmas traditions was waving goodbye to Dad for a few hours on Christmas Eve. He was off to the mall for Christmas gift shopping!
Every year, we never knew what to expect from Dad under the tree. In my case, I think that was primarily the result of having a kooky dad . . .
. . . but it’s slim pickings out there on Christmas Eve!
If you struggle to come up with great last-minute gift ideas, back away from the eyeshadow collections and novelty socks.
Whether you’re a self-proclaimed procrastinator or the holidays have just snuck up on you this year, you absolutely can get your hands on gifts that people love.
And you can do it on a budget. Here’s how . . .
1. The Perfect Magazine Subscription
In this digital day and age, almost everyone craves the excitement of something fun in the mailbox.
With the gift of a magazine subscription, your loved one gets something to look forward to every week or every month!
There are a ridiculous number of niche magazines out there, so think about your giftee’s interests. Then click your way over to Amazon’s huge supply of magazine subscriptions. (There are tens of thousands of magazines available.)
Choose your magazine and be sure to tell Amazon that your subscription is a gift. When you complete your purchase, you’ll have the option of sending your recipient a gift notification E-mail on the spot or of printing a pretty gift note.
Stuff that in a card and head out the door for your Christmas gift exchange!
2. Easy Homemade Baked Goodies
Homemade gifts impart a warm and fuzzy holiday feeling. Treats like cookies, candy, breads, muffins, and other sweet treats are all perfect for holiday gift-giving.
What’s that? You say you’re no good in the kitchen? Cheat. (Yes, cheat!)
If you have a bread machine, dump in a few ingredients, push a button, and walk away. In a few hours, you’ll have a professional-looking loaf to wow your giftee.
Or head to your local supermarket, which likely sells ready-made doughs in the refrigerated aisle and step-by-step kits in the baking aisle. If you can follow a few directions (add water, stir, etc.), you’re on your way to baked gift success.
3. Customized Pottery or Ceramics
For years, my big, crazy family gathered around the holidays to descend upon a paint-your-own-pottery joint and gab while painting.
As a result, my home has transformed over time into a storehouse of stenciled serving trays (useful), a cheeseburger bank (sort of useful?), and an assortment of completely useless pottery creations.
However, these types of pieces would actually make great gifts that are surprisingly fun and easy to create!
If you’re a whiz with a paintbrush, you may be able to create a stunning landscape on a blank serving platter. Or you could ease the difficulty level by using stencils and stampers to create an original design.
For $20 or so, you too can whip up some pottery pieces at a studio and have them glazed and fired within a week.
Not enough time? Do some at-home ceramics work by glazing your own Sharpie mug.
4. An Amazing Photo
Major drugstore chains and mega discount retailers (Target, Walmart, etc.) offer just what you need — one-hour photo pickup. Upload a great shot to the retailer’s website, pay for a photo print in a frameable size, then grab your keys.
Pick up a nice frame in the store, then nab your photo. Assemble, wrap, and done.
Stuck on which photo to give?
Consider a candid shot of your family, an image of a wonderful memory you share with the giftee, or a particularly nice scenery pic from a recent hike or vacation.
5. A Collection of Memories
Sometimes a picture won’t do the justice to a memory that video will.
6. Music & Movies
On dark and chilly winter nights, who doesn’t love snuggling under a blanket with a cup of cocoa and settling in to watch a good movie or enjoy some music?
So give your loved one that enticing experience. Head over to your favorite Best Buy, Target, or Walmart and aim directly for the entertainment section.
Grab a copy of the latest blockbuster. Or dig through the discount bins for amazing classics and forgotten favorites.
If music is on your gift list, choose a CD of greatest hits from your giftee’s favorite artist. Or find the latest hit album in your loved one’s preferred genre.
7. Discount Gift Cards
If you’re a die-hard gift card gifter, you may think that there’s no way around paying the face value of the card you buy.
But you’re wrong.
To save cash on your gift card purchases this year, check out a reputable online gift card marketplace like Raise.com. On Raise, you can nab plenty of gift cards for top retailers at discounted prices.
That’s right, you can give more gift card for less money.
On Raise, you’ll see options to buy physical cards and have them mailed directly to you.
However, if you need a present right now, you can choose from one of the many digital gift cards available. Click to buy and then get the codes sent directly to you. Print and pass it right along to your delighted giftee!
What’s your favorite last-minute holiday gift to give?
Post originally created December 2016. Updated November 2023.