Ideas for Last-Minute Christmas Gifts They’ll Remember

Inside is a regifted set of tumblers, but no one will ever know because it’s beautifully wrapped!

We’ve all received and given the assortment of bath products that screams “last-minute gift” or “we didn’t know you were bringing your girlfriend until this morning.” There’s nothing wrong with bath products, but below are a few ideas that will transform a last-minute gift into a more thoughtful gift.

For the gift ideas, I tried to include items you can either get the next day via Amazon Prime or Prime Now or at stores likely to be open from now until Christmas Day.

Stock Up on the Basics

A lot of these ideas will be a lot easier to execute if you have the basics on hand — gift bags of various sizes, cards, wrapping paper, tissue paper, etc. If it’s in your budget, go ahead and get some all-purpose gifts like gift cards (local restaurant chains, theater chains, Starbucks, Amazon, etc.), nice candles, bath products, and books that make great gifts. I like to buy things I like and find on sale throughout the year and keep them in one cabinet. If you subscribe to lifestyle boxes like FabFitFun or POPSugar, keep the items you know you won’t use there, too. It makes it a lot easier to have everything in one place rather than racing around looking for the fancy tobacco-scented candle you saved because it would make a good gift for a guy. (Hello, PopSugar Winter 2018 box!)

A Theme Elevates a Last-Minute Gift

Sticking to a theme can elevate a small collection of gifts. For example, a gift for a woman can be focused on me-time and include a candle, a book, bath salts, and a fancier than normal bar of chocolate she might not ordinarily buy for herself. For a man who might be a grill or smoke master, a collection of new seasoning or rub, a nice pair of tongs, and interesting wood chips. For a couple who enjoys hosting parties, don’t just give a bottle of wine. Add some interesting cheeses, the fancy crackers, and a serving plate. For movie lovers, elevate a simple AMC or Regal gift card with boxed candy they can sneak into the theater. If they’re parents and you’re feeling especially generous, add a homemade coupon with an offer to babysit on movie night. For someone who likes to cook or bake, combine a cookbook or favorite recipe with ingredients and tool used for that recipe. For a MAGA cook, try President Trump’s Mother’s Meatloaf with a roasting pan and a trio of colorful peppers. Or pair The Happy Cookbook with a pretty pie plate because it includes Sarah Sanders’ infamous Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie.

Include a Handwritten Card

Include a card with the gift with a hint about why you thought they would enjoy the gift and it will seem more thoughtful. A note saying, “No one deserves a day of relaxation more than you!” or “Thank you for a year of hosting the best get-togethers!” will let them know that you put thought into the gift and their interests. Also, be sure to put your Christmas tips for your hair stylist, doorman, and others in a card.

Beware of Connoisseurs

Unless you know a wine lover’s taste very well, stay clear of wine. Chances are they’ll be getting several bottles. Try something unique, like a specialty or foreign liqueur. For cheese snobs, give a basket of accoutrements like Marcona almonds, unique crackers, and specialty honey or fig spread. For coffee lovers, it may be tempting to go for a kitschy coffee mug. Don’t do it. You won’t be the first to have thought of it and they probably have a favorite mug. Avoid giving clutter!

Presentation, Presentation, Presentation

Splurge on the gift bag, the tissue paper, the fancy box for a gift card, etc. You want to make the person feel like you put thought into a gift even thought it might have been purchased at the last minute. You don’t want them to feel like it was simply an errand or an obligation. For unwrapped presentations, I’m not a fan of woven baskets because it’s not everyone’s aesthetic and eventually becomes clutter. Go for storage-type containers. You can find some great fabric-covered and wired ones at Target, Walmart, TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, and similar stores that the recipient can use forever.

Subscription Boxes Make Great Long-Distance Gifts

I have a bit of an obsession with subscription boxes. As I mentioned above, I subscribe to POPSugar and FabFitFun. Over the years I’ve had Birchbox, Sephora Play, and Rachel Zoe’s Box of Style. If you want to make a big impression with someone you can’t be with this Christmas or don’t see very often, check out My Subscription Addiction or CrateJoy and search by interest to find a subscription box the person might enjoy. If you’re a grandparent, there are tons of great ones for kids. For many boxes, you can choose the length of subscription — three months, six months, twelve months. Your last-minute gift will last beyond Christmas!

Things to Avoid

  • Pre-made gift baskets
  • Anything still in a store bag (Did I mention presentation is important?)
  • Just signing your name on a card and not including a personal message
  • Making apologies like a store not being open or mentioning another gift you thought of giving