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Last-Minute Gift Ideas That Don’t Break The Bank

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Did you meticulously plan your holiday budget, only to get invited to a last-minute Christmas party? Or your best friend’s mom gave you a gift that you hadn’t planned for? Or get a Christmas gift from a family member, even though you told each other no presents this year? No matter what has caught you off guard, scrambling for a last-minute gift is never a good feeling. 

Amazon Prime has us all believing two-day shipping will have anything at your door. But what if you don’t have time to shop online? If you have 24 hours or less to find a good gift that will impress without breaking the bank this holiday season, continue reading below.

Holiday Gift Guide for the Grocery Store 

If you need a gift in under an hour, don’t waste time at a crowded mall with more options than you have time for. Run through a grocery store for the best last minute ideas or stocking stuffers, preferably one you know like the back of your hand. Now, get creative and think about the recipient. What would they normally not put on a grocery list because it would seem indulgent?

If they are a foodie, take a look for out-of-the-ordinary salts, hot sauces, fresh herbs, or chocolate that they may not have tried before (or make your own gift set from a couple sections). If you are gifting to someone who loves gardening take a look for a potted plant instead of going with a fresh cut. Some grocery stores even sell seeds or bulbs if you want to look forward to spring. 

When in doubt, go for their drink of choice: Wine, beer, cocktails, coffee, etc make great same day gifts. Coffee beans can be a fun alternative to the traditional coffee-shop gift card. Some alcoholic beverages can be budget-breakers and not all grocery stores stock alcohol, so keep that in mind when shopping. 

The key is to not just run into the store and grab the first thing you see. You can make it a thoughtful gift by putting together a set of things that reflect how well you know this person and what they would indulge in. 

DIYs That Make Great Last-Minute Gifts

A do-it-yourself gift might take more time, but is a fun alternative to store-bought presents. Reusable hand warmers are a fun and useful gift for someone who likes to be outside in the winter (or someone who doesn’t like to but has to be). 

If you want to treat them to an at-home spa day, consider making some fun skincare from ingredients already in your kitchen. A simple sugar body scrub with essential oils is a perfect last-minute gift, or you could make a couple of things and build your own at-home spa gift basket

For kids (or the kid at heart), indoor snowballs are a great present, and they take almost no skill to make. As with a bakery, homemade cookies can be a great budget gift, and you can make them yourself. Be sure to know what allergies you need to be aware of, and include a label if you share with a crowd. 

Give Future Experiences

One easy way to do your holiday shopping the same day you need your gift is to find a digital gift that doesn’t require any shipping. This could include signing them up for a gift subscription service, where the item will show up every month or so. Some examples of these services include Winc for wine lovers, Birchbox for the beauty guru, or Audible for your friend always reading the latest best seller. Or a streaming service like Disney Plus, Netflix, Hulu (especially if they have been asking for your passwords). 

Alternatively, rather than giving a gadget or nicknack that you don’t think they will like, sometimes experiences make the best gifts. These can also be unique gifts that are hard to duplicate. For example, you could include a photo of a vacation spot you will be taking them to, a note saying you have concert tickets picked out, or the printed menu from your favorite restaurant. Just make sure to still wrap a gift box and find some small stand-in for a loved one to unwrap this holiday season. 

Conquer your student debt. Refinance now.

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Disclaimer: This blog post provides personal finance educational information, and it is not intended to provide legal, financial, or tax advice.