So, you haven’t been holiday shopping yet. Last-minute gifts are the best kind of gifts if you know how to do them right (and we’re about to tell you how). Don’t worry about frantically rushing to crowded malls or wasting hours gift wrapping. Spend the last days of the gift-buying season kicking back with an eggnog and binging Netflix.
Here are the easiest last-minute gift ideas to get or make for everyone on your Christmas lift, from your best guy friends to your mother to your loving S.O.
Buy someone a plane ticket, which is a fancy way of saying airline gift card. Instead of picking the destination, choosing their seat, and assuming they want to depart at 6 a.m., let them make all the decisions while you get all the credit. The airline should send you an actual gift card. Dress it up by printing a fake ticket and writing the giftee’s name on it, then tape the card to the back. Bonus wrapping points if you have time to rush a travel document holder like this stunner from Leatherology.
Online Music Lessons
This is great for anyone who has dabbled with an instrument. Sign them up online at ArtistWorks for e-lessons. Pick from the bass to French horn, banjo, or a dozen other instruments and specify the style they love. A 12-month plan costs $23.25 a month and includes unlimited access to video lessons, real teacher feedback, backing tracks, and more.
For the one — do everyone in the TV show group text a favor and get that one person who hasn’t seen Game of Thrones, Westworld, or Barry an HBO NOW gift card or prepaid subscription. Subscription gifts can be weird because there’s no rule for how long you should go on paying — One year? Forever? — so opt for the gift card. Once the money is spent, they’ll have to piggyback on your account or finally grow up and get their own. Because the final season of Game of Thrones is only four months away.
Malls will be madhouses and don’t even think of stepping foot into a Target. Google the nearest cigar shop or lounge and make a quick trip for a box of stogies, stainless steel cutters, and blowtorch lighters. Make it more personal by hand-picking a selection of individual cigars for each dude, getting expert advice in-store based on strength and pallet preference. No need to wrap. If their first-timers and need some cigar-smoking tips, direct them here.
Sometimes the best gifts are practical and help us not spend as much on items and services we regularly drop Benjamins for. An Uber or Lyft gift card is perfect for anyone who you kinda-sorta know and need to buy something for but aren’t going to get sentimental about. Like a coworker, your uncle that still parties every weekend, or your boss that travels a ton.
Hire a chef to come to your mama’s home and cook her a lavish meal. Just don’t seek expert culinary stars on Craigslist — Go to Hire a Chef, which is affiliated with the United States Personal Chef Association, and search for a chef in the right zip code. Pick the right match based on the chef’s services and background (i.e. a former molecular biologist who makes the best comfort food you’ll ever eat or a dinner party expert who teaches a cooking class while they cater).
Stay in an Airbnb Mansion
We tend to forget that New Year’s Eve is right around the corner. You won’t be the hero on Christmas but you can save the praise for NYE by booking out an Airbnb mansion, penthouse, or off-the-grid retreat for the family, best friends, or love interest on December 31. Not only will this give them something lavish to look forward to, but it’ll show you’re great at planning ahead (even though you secretly suck at it). Go big and stock the house with bubbly.
OK, your mom will probably start bawling when you tell her you not only had one star named after her but an entire constellation. — much better than, “Surprise, Mmom, I got your name tattooed on my chest!” Go online to Star Registration and get a certificate and celestial map showing exactly where your mother-star is. The service only assign visible stars and gets regularly audited by the star-naming registry.
We’re all-in on buying more experience-based gifts this holiday as opposed to material possessions. That’s because we tend to remember and cherish experiences more than inanimate crap. Buy someone concert tickets and let them know you really care by splurging on the good seats. This is a gift that keeps on giving since you’ll get Santa points when they unwrap the tickets (print out fake concert tickets that look vintage if you haven’t had real ones mailed), then double points when the event rolls around. Ho, ho, hope you like Marilyn Manson, baby.
“Boy, I really hated when I got that nice bottle of booze,” said nobody ever. Run downstairs to the corner liquor store and ask the clerk for some of the nicest bottles (within reason). If your the recipient loves rosé, ask for that. Tequila? There’s a bottle of that. Even if your bromance has a thing for Natty Light, grab four cases, stack them, and wrap the lot like one big present. Sure, you can opt for a holiday limited-edition but standard top-shelf bottles available year-round do the trick too. Don’t know where to start? Here are some suggestions.
DIY Gift Ideas
Homemade BBQ Sauce
Go to the Dollar Store and grab a handful of empty glass containers. Multiply this Stout and Sriracha BBQ Sauce recipe by 10 and throw a pot on the burner. It shouldn’t take you long to have a vat of homemade barbeque sauce to bottle up and hand out for the holidays. Make an effort in presentation, wrapping ribbon or twine into a bow around the bottleneck. Get creative with your label by printing out designs (they can differ depending on who the sauce is for). Go an easy but noticeable step farther and include the giftee’s name on the packaging.
Every bro in your circle has a nickname, famous quote, or some pseudonym or emblem that reminds you of an inside joke (and therefore your manly bond as BFFs). Stop by a superstore or craft store and grab the following: plain T-shirts and iron-on letters. Retreat to your place and heat up the iron. Position letters on the shirts to call out the phrase or nickname for each guy, then iron them on. Wrapping? Get basic gift bags when you’re at the grocery store (you know that card aisle) and toss them in. Done.
Go to a crafts store, grab some blank canvas and empty frames, head home, and go at it, Picasso. Maybe your cuffing fling has a big orange cat they’re obsessed with. Draw him, throw that drawing in a faux gold frame, and sign the bottom. This last-minute gift idea will not only relieve some of the stress of the holidays but makes for a 100-percent custom gift you can be sure they won’t get from anyone else. So what if they don’t end up hanging it in the foyer? The time you spent making the gift means a million times more than if you defaulted to a department store present.
Homemade Beef Jerky
Become a master of beef jerky in only a few hours by following the advice and Sweet Potato and Habanero Beef Jerky of chef Thomas Boemer, culinary genius behind Minneapolis’ Corner Table and Revival, butcher, Cochon 555 winner, and all-around master of meats. Buy some holiday plastic bags at the Dollar Store and tie off your jerky bags with red bows.
DIY Green Tea Toner
If you don’t have the three to five business days to wait for upscale grooming products to ship (plus these can be super expensive), make your own. Naturopathica shared their DIY recipe for a Green Tea Toner that will recharge dry winter skin and make it glow. All you need is a French press and these ingredients:
- 1 4-ounce bottle with spray atomizer
- 4 ounces distilled water
- 4 tsp green tea leaves
- 2 tsp aloe vera gel
- 1 tsp dried peppermint leaves
- 2 drops lavender essential oil
Method: Combine the herbs in a French press. In a small pan, bring distilled water to a boil and pour over herbs. Add lavender essential oil, steep for 10 minutes, plunge, and let cool. Pour aloe vera gel into bottle and fill with herbal infusion. Cap with spray atomizer.
Dark Chocolate Drizzled Popcorn
What in the world do you get coworkers? Homemade dark chocolate popcorn, that’s what. Make a big batch and distribute into holiday bags. Sure, you don’t have to get officemates anything for the holidays, but it’s a nice gesture that might land you a new work pal (which helps the days go faster).
- 1/2 cup TCHO chocolate baking disks
- 3 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons virgin coconut oil
- 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
- Fine sea salt
Method: Fill a small saucepan with a few inches of water; bring to just below a boil over medium heat. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, then place the bowl (just make sure it’s not plastic, guys) over the saucepan. Once the chocolate has melted and you’ve stirred it smooth, remove the pan from the heat. Line one or two baking sheets with waxed paper. Transfer melted chocolate to a zip-top bag, squeezing the chocolate down to one of the bottom corners. Immediately transfer the popcorn to the baking sheet(s), spreading it in an even layer. Turn the short end of the baking sheet(s) to face you. Use scissors to snip off a small bit of the bottom corner so you can drizzle the chocolate over the popcorn; hold the bag at a slight angle and start drizzling from the side closest to you up to the top, trying to hit about 75 percent of the popcorn. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Let the chocolate set before storing.