5 Last-minute Christmas Gift Ideas

hands holding a small wrapped gift

Left your shopping till the last minute? Here are our top suggestions.

Between work, finals, and life, we can all fall behind in our Christmas shopping. If you’re finding yourself completely shocked that the big holiday is this weekend, trust us: you’re not the only one. We’ve all been in that boat, which fortunately means we can bail you out.

Here are our top last-minute Christmas gift ideas, suitable for even the most difficult people to shop for.

1. Make a date out of it.

Spending time with someone can be one of the most fulfilling gifts. You build meaningful experiences while also making that person a priority in your life. This could mean organizing a group dinner with friends, or setting aside a special tea time with your mom. All you need is a nice card and a thoughtful note.

Or, for a young person in your life, think about sharing a special place with them, such as the Ann Arbor Botanical Gardens or the Hands-On Museum. The memory will last longer than a toy.

2. Go home-made.

Some of the best memories of the holiday can come from special treats we only get this time of year. If you want to give your friends something, but are worried about blowing your budget out of the water, think about a home-made baked good you could deliver.

Or, if you’re concerned about dietary restrictions, think about a thoughtful, repeatable craft project. A hand-made Christmas ornament can make a beautiful last-minute addition to any tree.

3. Lend a helping hand.

What skills could you lend others to help them out? Maybe you can help your sister-in-law finally finish the painting job in her bathroom. Or you can offer to come by your grandma’s house to do more difficult chores once a month. Or you can offer to babysit while your friend takes some personal time. It may sound a little childish to draw up hand-made IOUs for services, but your family and friends may appreciate practical help more than you realize.

4. Buy a book.

Books make for great gifts. Not only can you introduce someone to new worlds and ideas, but you can share that experience with them. Combine it with a gift card to their favorite coffee shop for an extra thoughtful touch.

If you know your friend has a long reading list, get them a gift card so that they can pick the book out for themselves. Then offer to read whatever book they’ve chosen so that you can get together to talk about it later.

5. Help them take care of themselves.

Sometimes, your friends and loved ones forget to take care of themselves and need a little encouragement. Think about getting them a gift certificate to a spa, or organize a fun night in where you bring dinner. Take their personality and interests into account and match your gift to what they need most in their life.

When all else fails…

Maybe you live far away and can’t spend the time with your friend or loved one that you’d like. It’s also too late to mail a home-made gift, and given the distance, you can’t offer any services to help out. It may not sound like the most considerate thing, but we’re going to let you off the hook: just buy a gift card.

Some people enjoy the experience of shopping almost as much as the gift itself. And others simply have strong preferences and would rather choose for themselves. Both these things make gift cards a welcome and acceptable gift item, and a good friend will realize that your love for them isn’t summed up by the dollar value on the card. Send it with a hand-written note, and take time to call them to catch up later.

Because at the end of the day, your relationship matters far more than your gift.

Iris Proctor
Iris is the director of ArborWoman.