18 Last-Minute Gift Ideas (Many You Can Scoop on the Way Home!)

December 22, 2016

Every year, despite making gift idea spreadsheets (or, okay, thinking about making gift spreadsheets) and shopping all summer reading catalogues religiously, I end up on a whirlwind shopping outing with my dad on Christmas Eve. Admittedly, it's kind of become our thing: Bundle up, deliberately choose a far-away parking spot at the mall, joke about getting everyone Yankee Candles, and then bee-line to meet some other delinquent shoppers for a celebratory drink when we've had our way with the Dillard's cashmere scarf section.

It'll be hard for your giftee to turn down a Dillard's cashmere scarf (especially without a gift receipt). But in the event that you don't want them to know that you got their present at the last minute, here are 17 ideas for last-minute gifts they'll love just as much as those procured in a timely fashion.

  • Fancy ingredients: If you have a small, gourmet grocer in your town to which you typically try and limit your number of visits (if only for your wallet's sake), now's a good time to stop by: A tin of fancy sel gris, or smoked paprika, or imported olive oil will never be a bad idea. Bonus thoughtfulness points if you jot down some tips on how to use them.
  • A cozy robe: Your local department store definitely has one.
  • A clever subscription: Our shop has some of the best subscriptions out there—high quality, creative staples you'd want to get a whole year of (and be delightfully surprised you could).
  • A year of headspace (literally): For a holiday promotion, the mindfulness app Headspace is offering a year's worth of access to their research-driven meditation app for $69.99, a very thoughtful gift indeed for anyone with a busy life (their sessions are as short as ten minutes per day!). To boot: Every time a subscription is purchased, Headspace makes another subscription available to a non-profit.
  • A terrarium: Your local nursery might have one, or you can pick up the parts and make it yourself.
  • A proper power drill: You know where the hardware store is, right? And you have a friend who's newly into redecorating their apartment (on repeat), right? Upgrade their dinky hand-me-down drill to a proper cordless model, like this Black + Decker 20-volter.
  • A homemade snack: Just add pouch, ribbon, and a smile—here are 21 recipes we love to batch and give around the holiday season.
Black + Decker Drill
  • A garland for their table: With a bushel of flowers, some rope and wire, and this tutorial, you'll be on your way to DIY-ing one in no time.
  • Stamps (and, okay, stationery): Tucked in alongside a fancy pen, or some cards that they won't be embarrassed to send, a roll of stamps would be a pretty darn exciting thing to receive. (My family has given this as tradition some years, and we're always jealous of the recipient.)
  • A monthly box of goodies: You can find these for just about any interest nowadays, whether that's beauty samples or something even more on trend: Rachel Zoe's picks for winter, including but not limited to a cableknit hat, fancy candle, and leather card case.
Coastal Bird Stamps
  • A gift card to their favorite neighborhood lunch place: The gift that says, "You don't have to worry about spending too much on lunches this week!" Especially kind if it's to somewhere super delicious, like Sweetgreen.
  • A gift card to a fancy dinner place near their home: The gift that says, "You deserve it."
  • An experience: The best thing about giving someone an activity, all planned out and ready to go, is that you can put it together the day before you present it to them. (Just kidding, the real best thing is that they'll be so overwhelmed by your thoughtfulness.) Here are lots of ideas to get started:
  • A year of poetry: For the reader or songbird in your life: A monthly poem by Jacqueline Suskin (plus a "random additional perk" like pretty paper, or a decorated envelope) delivered to their doorstep for a year—on paper, of course.
  • A nearby CSA share: Even if it doesn't start till spring, imagine how stoked they'll be to learn a weekly bushel of fresh, local vegetables is coming their way in the new year.
  • Airline miles: Especially brilliant for the travel-lover in your life, but really, who wouldn't be excited to get the gift of a getaway?
  • An Amazon Prime subscription: The gift of free two-day shipping? Free two-hour delivery, on a bunch of things? Almost too good to be true—and the lesser-known upsides, like access to a database of instant free movies, books, and games, is better than, well, cable.
  • An e-gift card to the Food52 Shop: We had to—because you'd basically be giving someone the gift of their choice of 2,000+ of the most reliable, loveliest home and kitchen goods around.

What's your go-to last-minute gift that's not a Dillard's scarf (because I called it)—share in the comments!

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Amanda Sims

Written by: Amanda Sims

Professional trespasser.