Malls are the seventh circle of hell during December so it’s no surprise you’ve stayed away. With the holidays upon us (and you empty-handed), don’t get frantic — get creative.
We’re here to help with 18 last-minute Christmas gift ideas. Each present on this list is easy to put together while still being thoughtful, surprising, and luxe. You can shop from Amazon, the gas station, craft store, or Whole Foods Market. That’s right, do your Christmas shopping at the gas station if worst comes to worst.
From Target to Kohls, Walgreens, and even the Dollar Store, picture frames are an easy gift to find and they work for just about anyone. Rifle through photo boxes at home and personalize the frame by adding a pic. All your photos stuck on your phone? Get prints made within the hour at photo centers (i.e. Walgreens) or frame a piece of memorabilia like a concert ticket or a movie stub. The takeaway is to frame anything half-sentimental — it says you care about the little things.
For the Connoisseur
Whiskey Decanter Set
Much like your father, you do all your shopping the week of Christmas. Raise the stakes by shopping only two days before the holiday and doing it from your lounger.has two-day delivery on Amazon and is complete with six ornate cocktail glasses and an Italian-crafted whiskey decanter with stopper. It’s stately, old fashioned, and insanely affordable at $25.
DIY Wood Coasters
Why buy something when you can stay at home and build it. Go Ron Swanson on Christmas and make DIY cup coasters out of resin and wood. Choose small cuts of quality wood and follow this tutorial by DIY Huntress. She says, “if I can do it, you most definitely can.” The result is a timeless, one-of-a-kind coaster that will make them think of you every time they’re sipping whiskey.
Transform one of the old Steins you bought and never use into a personalized cup for your uncle. Clean well, buy glass paint and a brush from the craft store, and get artsy. Paint their name, a design, inside jokes, and let dry. Tip: avoid painting the mouth area so there’s no threat of toxicity. Do this with any unused cups in the house like spare coffee mugs. In this case, use porcelain paint, let dry 12-24 hours, and bake in the oven. Follow specific steps on the paint vials for more detail. Prost!
For Your Neighbor
You’re at the grocery store anyway and people love food. Cheese, in particular. A day or two before Christmas, put together a cheese basket by selecting a half-dozen specialty cheeses from the grocery store. You can literally pick blindly and the basket will turn out great. Toss in a box of crackers, jam, olives, and arrange in a Dollar Store basket.
For Your BFF
Ask Wesley Snipes to send a Merry Christmas video to your best friend. Or maybe NBA player Dwight Howard, or The Most Interesting Man in the World, or ultimate babe Emmanuelle Chriqui (Sloan on Entourage). Cameo lets you order a personalized celebrity shout out from the athlete, actor, or musician of your choice. Choose from hundreds of A-listers or ultra-obscure celebrities for a gift that is hilarious, unique, and totally unexpected.
For the Young (or Young at Heart)
Sega Genesis Mini
The countdown is on and you’re freaking out. With four days to go until Christmas, think retro and order a miniature Sega Genesis replica that is ready to plug and play.comes with two controllers and 40 throwback games loaded onto the console. It’s great for that nephew or cousin your completely forgot existed.
If you’re short on time, do not — I repeat — do not get your S.O. cheap slippers from Walmart. They will know and you will suffer. Instead, call up the swankiest restaurant in town and make dinner reservations for the next weekend. Get a card from the store and write out the restaurant name, reservation date, and time, and a cute note like, “Wear something special, pick you up at ___.”
Bae is expecting something big this year. If you’re not ready for an engagement ring, treat them to a last-minute flight to a place you’ve never visited. Find cheap Getaway flights on Kayak, Southwest, Cheapo Air, Expedia, Delta, basically any flight-booking service and turn your procrastination into savings. Go round-trip for as low as $125 per person, or grab a Getaway package that covers flight and hotel.
Shopping last-minute forces you to get creative and give gifts they will actually use, like a subscription service that doesn’t come in a monthly box. Pay for an unlimited subscription to the meditation app Headspace, the streaming service Disney+, or Sirius XM Radio (any Howard Stern fans out there?). They will always find an excuse not to subscribe themselves, so surprise them with this unconventional but coveted gift.
Epsom Salt Bath Bomb
Roll up your sleeves and DIY this. Mom loves anything handmade, so mix together an Epsom salt bath bomb for her to use to relax. This recipe from the Epsom Salt Council yields two bath bombs and can be made 24 hours before gift time. You’ll need: baking soda, corn starch, citric acid, Epsom salt, water, essential oil (her favorite scent or just go with lavender), coconut oil, food coloring, and two plastic ornament spheres. Follow these directions and freeze overnight. Wrap with fancy paper and a bow.
For Your Adventure Buddy
Ski Lift Pass
For the friend who is always down for a road trip, indoor skydiving, and mini-golf, gift them a pass to the closest mountain. Depending on how shred-tastic they are, buy a single-day ticket or season pass. You can easily buy online directly from the ski resort. Toss a few hand-warmers from REI into a bag with the printed ticket or confirmation sheet.
For the Book Lover
Book of the Month Subscription
Buy a subscription for one year to BookOfTheMonth, a service that finds the best new novels and ships one to binge read every month. Sign them up and explain how it works on Christmas Day: Each month, five books are chosen. They go online, checks them out, and choose the one they want to read. BookOfTheMonth ships it. Not interested in any? Skip any month and the credits will rollover. This gift keeps on giving year-round.
For Your Work Wife
Show your work wife you appreciate them by gifting a last-minute soy candle from. Homesick designs candles for each state, curating a smell that is local and location-specific (and made in the United States). For instance, New York is the scents of the Adirondacks and the autumn fragrance of pumpkins and apple orchards, finished by sweet hay, rushing river, and notes of nutmeg and cinnamon. Choose your work wife’s home state and send two-day shipping. Add a note: Thank you for making me not want to quit.
For Your Best Friend
Jerry Seinfeld is on tour. So are Dave Chappelle and Daniel Tosh. I mean, come on, get tickets. Grab semi-decent seats for you and your best friend. Laugh a ton, make memories, and avoid the boring wallet, socks, or chocolate present.
Crap, tomorrow is Christmas. Prioritize and get a gift for mom or grandma first. At, you can schedule a same-day delivery of fresh floral bouquets or chocolate-dipped fruit. Plus, they have Christmas-themed arrangements. Choose either the Holiday Flower Tree or Fields of Europe Winter Bliss arrangement. Since you’re not getting presents for anyone else, make the bouquet extra-large and include a short, sweet note.
It’s the eve of Christmas Eve and no present seems to communicate the right sentiment. Well, use your words. Grab a nice pen, an elegant set of stationary, and sit down to write personal letters. Talk about the qualities you most admire in the person. What are your fondest memories? What are their strengths? What do you wish for them in the new year and how have they influenced you. Keep the topic on them and really get deep. The best present of all is feeling seen and loved. Remind people of their brilliance. Write two to three pages, seal in an envelope, hide it in the Christmas Tree, or give it in-person for them to open in private.
The only store for 50 miles is a gas station and you’ve got Christmas shopping to do. Challenge accepted. Drop money on a fun mix of lottery scratchers and gift them to friends with a candy cane. True friends don’t expect you to get them anything, so the thought and funny gesture speak miles. Plus, it’s better than a board game. They can win actual money.
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