1. Mason jar + equal parts granulated sugar and veg oil + either a few drops of essential oil OR some lemon zest OR vanilla extract = boutique grade body scrub.
2. Buy tickets online for a upcoming play, dinner & show, concert, game, etc. Print out page of ticket confirmation and put it in a nice Christmas card envelope. It’s an awesome gift because people tend to love it more than clothing or other junk you usually give. And if you’re parents are like mine, they barely take the initiative to go to these type of events themselves or don’t even know about them. Experience > material goods.
3. Run to the grocery store, pick up chocolate morsels, butter, and cream.
Takes about five hours to make 200 chocolate truffles. Easy to make them different flavors as well. (Orange, Bailey’s Irish Cream, and Cinnamon Honey are the good with milk chocolate. Peppermint, Khalua, and Matcha are good with dark chocolate. Peppermint and matcha are fantastic with white chocolate.)
4. At least for men, my go-to is always a beard or personal grooming kit. It’s likely something that they wouldn’t buy themselves, and many haven’t felt the exhilaration of a peppermint shampoo. Men deserve a little pampering and self care too!
5. I think mugs make a good last minute gift because they’re available at most stores, pretty cheap for a gift, and will actually be used by the recipient.
6. Socks. High-end, badass, toasty warm (if you live where it gets cold) socks. Smartwool/Darn Tough/etc.. They may “meh” at it early on, but will thank you later. Maybe even very later, but it’ll be appreciated (a lot) eventually.
7. Most people I know don’t have bluetooth hook ups in their car, FM Transmitters are absolutely fantastic, they’re relatively cheap and life changers for folks that like to listen to music while driving, Probably $15 and under.
One of those copper chef/gotham steel type skillets. They’re fantastic, less than $20, endless use.
8. Cookie/brownie mix in a mason jar with instructions on a card and a bow.
Or a visa gift card.
9. Fancy pasta, fancy jarred sauce, nice block of parm cheese, in a serving bowl with a kitchen towel. You can do this as expensively or as cheaply as you want.
I also loved a book called The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8 Lee (basically, a woman exploring Chinese food in the USA as well as her own Chinese roots, and the history of fortune cookies… really fascinating). She talks a lot about soy sauce in that book, so I’ve given that book with a bottle of “real” soy sauce many times. I love sharing things I love with other people, so that’s a gift I love to give.
10. Subscription box. Like coffee? Subscription box. Board games? Subscription box. Make up? Subscription box. Ties or socks or yarn or hot sauce or tea or beer or wine or Japanese candy or marvel or harry porter or fitness? Subscription mother-fuckin box.
11. Go to the dollar store and grab some over the hand oven mitts, then head to the grocery store and get cake & brownie mixes, hand write the baking directions on a decorated index card or slip of paper. Personalize each one with a message or somesuch. Bam.
12. If it’s someone you’re fairly close to, print out a photo of the two of you and put it in a frame. It feels thoughtful, but can also be done in less than an hour and is cheap.
13. Depends how well I know them, or if I’ve used the same trick before – but it’s probably a cast iron skillet. Costs $20 for a good one (rhymes with dodge), and I always get thanked for it, like a year later.
A million calories of chocolate for about twenty quid.
Enough to distribute to everyone.
15. Here is what I do every year.
I go buy gift certificates for my favorite restaurants, and gift cards from Best Buy. I then put them in Christmas cards with no name on them.
I keep some in the house and some in my car.
If someone gives me a gift, I say “Wait a minute, I have something for you too” and go get the card. I quickly write their name on it and hand it to them.
Its worked out perfectly for me for years. I give everyone that gives me something, and if I end up with extra gift certificates or gift cards, I just use them on myself.
16. I make them an elaborate Christmas card with an etymology of their name. It’s always a hit and has more meaning than a gift card.
17. Good pair of headphones.
18. I make very good gingerbread cookies and decorate them very elaborately, like I’ll draw a portrait of them in frosting or I draw a cartoon character they like. Im pretty good at it.
19. Chia pet. So many varieties. ‘Ironic’ gift for those recipients, awesome gift for the others.
Either way you are a hero!
20. Those soft-ass blankets you find in any store around Christmas time. And then I buy one more for me. Every goddamn year
21. For girls: anything from Anthropologie. They have a great gifts and the quality/craftsmanship is decent. That and they gift wrap beautifully for free! I use this for last minute birthday gifts quite often and it always impresses.
For guy: gift cards or booze. Guys appreciate utility.
22. Nail place… Women will go wild over a free mani-pedi.
23. A bottle of their favorite spirits, or for non-drinkers/kids, a book.
There is a book on literally any topic ever.
Fan of Formula 1? Book.
Fan of Jujitsu? Book.
Like economic news? Book.
Want to improve yourself? Book.
And you can get books everywhere. Online, in store, thrift stores, little free libraries, everywhere.
I usually have lots of spiderplant babies and keep a few small pots on hand. Great for all occasions.
26. Those Hickory Farms meat and cheese gift boxes.
27. For a family – Get a tin bucket of gourmet holiday popcorn (caramel / chocolate flavored popcorn) to share.
For a dude – Get a bottle of fancy champagne or other booze like whisky or bourbon.
For anyone younger than 30 – Get an Amazon gift card.
For a kid – Give them a $50 dollar bill. They likely never handle money and if they do, the $50 looks so much better than the $20. Easy way to become the cool uncle.
For a girl – Get them a gift certificate to a local salon, a big blanket, or fun warm socks (not regular socks but those nicer holiday woven socks).
For your mom – Get her an ornament that has sentimental value, or, go to the mall (who does that anymore) and get them to hand paint an ornament on the spot with the family name & year on it.
For your dad – Get him NFL or NBA tickets.
28. Things that are consumable… everyone has way too many junk trinkets just because someone felt they had to buy something.
Ground coffee from a local coffee shop (if you know the person has a grinder, get whole bean, but not everyone does). They usually have fun Christmas flavors this time of year.
A bottle of dry wine or champagne.
Nice candles (go for ones that are soy based and have lids) or liquid hand soap.
29. Who wants lottery tickets?!?!?!
30. If we’re talking non-money gifts you know what’s a great go to? TJ Maxx. They are just a hodgepodge of random stuff and they have bailed me out so much when it comes to gift giving because with all the things they have you are bound to find something for everyone.
31. Home made egg nog, Irish cream, or Kahlúa. Most people will love one of the three, they are easy to make, made by hand, affordable, and our gifts that go away.
32. I’d bake a bunch of stuff or make fancy looking caramel apples. If I give people food, they seem to be satisfied.
33. I’ll do a blanket/candle/bottle of wine/nice beer and fudge,
OR a movie/board game and stop by the dollar store for a shower caddy, fill it with popcorn, movie candies, etc if it’s for a family. Do a caddy and filler per family member.
34. Starbucks gift card. Everyone loves Starbucks.
35. Lego. Lego for the nephew, lego for dad, lego for mom, lego for granny, lego for EVERYONE!
36. Spicery subscription for three months. Print out the confirmation and chuck it in an envelope. I’ve gifted this twice and both recipients said that they never wanted any other present from me – just for that subscription to repeat.
37. If it’s last minute, I tried to go to a clothing store I know they have clothes from. Throughout the year I’ll ask “bro, nice jacket, where’d you get it?” Then I remember their spot and get them a gift card.
Then to cover my ass cause some people are weird about gift cards I say “I saw a _____ while shopping but I couldn’t remember your size/didn’t know what color you’d like/etc.”
38. Magazine subscriptions. The New Yorker. Times Literary Supplement. New Scientist. Private Eye. Done them all.
39. Mom – Candles and epsom salts.
Brother – Steam/eShop card, or go to a second hand store and find a game I think he’d like.
Dad – Itunes Gift Card or some kind of sports paraphernalia.
Girlfriend – something that reminds me of her, or that I think she’d love (last Christmas it was a pair of socks that said ,”I’m a delicate fucking flower”).
40. I buy ten copies of the best book I’ve read all year and wrap em in newspaper.
Proof of success: I do this every year
41. A brick of batteries. Everybody needs batteries, nobody will say no to batteries, and they will think of you when they are in a pinch and realize you got them a BRICK of batteries.
Great practical gift.
42. Throw blankets from the 24-hour drugstore. They’re $15 and nice enough that I use them myself. This is also my go-to for any gift swap at the office/with people I don’t know super well.
43. Pictures! Take a picture of something the receiver will like, or find one you might already have, throw it in a cheap frame and WABANG
44. Go to CVS and get a gift card (they have Amazon, iTunes, random others). Swing buy a restaurant and grab a gift card for that place. Last ditch, don’t have time to get a hard copy of a gift card- just buy one online that you can email.
45. Luxury kitchen stuff.
There’s a great kitchen & dinnerware shop within walking distance of my home. I can get pretty dinnerware, flatware, glasses and linens in a range of styles, and they have durable, high quality cookware for the more practically minded people. It’s my go to gift-shop, because everyone eats.
46. Lava Lamp!
No one has one.
Oh, and it’s neat.
47. I’d bring them all to a restaurant and pay for their meal-> easy way to make a party and present at the same time without having to worry about what to buy them since they can order themselves what they want
48. Pharmacies always have cheap last minute crap like travel manicure kits and hot sauce samplers.
49. You get a box of chocolate! You get a box of chocolate! And you get a box of chocolate! Everyone gets a box of chocolate!!!
50. Cash, candy, and/or alcohol.