10 Last-Minute Gift Ideas

Let me walk you through the end of your semester. It’s a week before the holidays, you’re finally done with finals, and you’ve never felt more ready to kick back and revel in your hard-earned winter break.

While giddily packing to go home, you are seized by panic— it dawns on you that you have no gifts for any of your loved ones. What was once a serendipitous moment has turned into complete chaos as you surf Amazon deals and throw the last of your belongings in a hamper.

Not only do you have to scramble for gifts late in the season, but they have to be meaningful enough that it doesn’t seem like you completely forgot.

If you anticipate this scenario in your future, here are some last-minute gift ideas that are applicable to almost anybody—and that isn’t just a gift card.

  1. An Annual Subscription
    Spotify, Time magazine, Netflix, Costco, Audible, you name it. An annual subscription to one of your loved one’s favorite paid services makes for a great gift that keeps on giving. With a number of options to choose from, you can tailor this to their interests or needs while staying within your personal price range.
    It’s a great gift option if you don’t have time for shipping, as you can purchase a subscription directly to their account or have deliveries started in the new year.
  2. Shutterfly Gifts
    Shutterfly has many options for personalized gifts, making this a go-to site for anybody who loves memorializing shared moments.
    From ornaments and blankets to collages and mouse pads, Shutterfly can put a picture on almost anything. It takes minimal effort; nonetheless, with the right pictures, its meaning is insurmountable.
  3. Fill-in-the-Blank Books
    Fill-in-the-blank books are memento journals—sort of like a sentimental MadLib. These books are perfect for loved ones who appreciate receiving a more emotional gift.
    A store like Hallmark carries a number of these items, and their topics vary among specific family members, friends, and significant others. Though they may take some time to complete, they are certainly worth it for the reaction they evoke, serving as a physical reminder of how much you love someone.
  4. Treat Boxes
    If your loved one is a foodie or snack connoisseur, a treat box is a hassle-free way to give the gift of food this year. Companies like SnackSack, Variety Fun, and ship candy, jerky, chips, mixed nuts, and more right to your doorstep, eliminating the need to hastily shop yourself.
    If you’re not sure what to get, the company Sugarwish allows you to choose the number of candies you want to purchase, and then sends an eCard and redeemable code to the recipient for them to choose their own snacks.
  5. A Board Game
    Seemingly simple, board games are a classic gift that almost anyone will enjoy. The game section at a retail store like Target offers an array of games that accommodate a variety of interests.
    Junior communication student, Emer Brophy, thinks board games are a great gift. “Some people think they’re stupid, but I found that my older family members really like getting something that the whole family can use to bond,” she said.
    Finding a game that caters to your loved ones interests—mysteries, puzzles, competition, etc.—ensures that the game doesn’t get stuffed in a closet to collect dust.
  6. Insulated Travel Mug/Bottle
    The colder months require a greater need for warm drinks, making an insulated travel mug one of the best gift options.
    Brands like Hydroflask and Yeti promise to keep drinks hot for hours at a time, perfect for early morning coffee drinkers.
    Their capabilities extend to keeping drinks cold, as well, allowing this to be a year-round gift that most people can find useful.
  7. Phone Case/Watch Band/Laptop Case
    A phone case, smartwatch band, or laptop case is the perfect, practical gift for someone who likes to spice things up.
    A number of different retail stores sell cases ranging in prices and styles, which makes this idea much more versatile yet affordable.
    Nicole Chamberlain, a junior communication student, loves having multiple phone cases. “I’d love to get a phone case for a gift,” she added. “I switch them out fairly often, so I’d use it all of the time.”
  8. No-Sew Fleece Blanket
    Blankets are crucial in the winter and a breeze to make yourself, making a no-sew fleece blanket both meaningful and sensible.
    Pick up a couple of yards of fleece fabric at a store like Jo-Ann Fabrics, look up a tutorial on YouTube, and have your loved one’s new favorite blanket in no time. Fabrics vary in color in patterns.
  9. Gift Certificates
    While gift cards for large chains can seem impersonal, a gift certificate for a loved one’s favorite spa, family-owned restaurant, or other local business can be a thoughtful and practical gift that you know they’ll use. Pair this with something small like a candle or box of candy.
  10. Skincare/Makeup Basket
    With the harsh, dry air of the winter months upon us, products like lotions, face moisturizers, hydrating washes, and gentle exfoliators are self-care gift staples.
    If someone you know wears makeup, throw in a few of their favorites and some sample sizes of new products you think they might like. For men, beard oils, aftershave, and shaving cream are some essentials they will certainly appreciate. Arrange them in a cheap basket with some tissue paper, and you’ve got yourself a ready-to-go gift basket.
    Although gift-giving can seem like a hurdle at times, there are plenty of last-minute gift options that are both thoughtful and affordable. A small but meaningful gift can go a long way to show your close family members, friends, and significant others that you’re thinking about them this holiday season.