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Last Minute Holiday Gifts That Don’t Break The Bank

Did you meticulously plan your holiday budget, only to get invited to a last minute party? Or forgotten you had signed up for the office Secret Santa? Or get a gift from a friend, 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.

You can find anything you need online, the question is, will it arrive in time? If you have 24 hours or less to find a gift that will impress without breaking the bank, we have you covered.

Running Through 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, 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. 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. 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.

Head to the Mall or Shop Local

Did you have some heads up that you need another present? Stopping by the mall is a great way to hit a number of errands you might already have this season in one trip. Preboxed gift sets, scented candles, and socks might seem played out, but if the person you are buying for would enjoy these, don’t discount these ideas. They are classics for a reason.

If you are looking to shop a little more local, take a look around your town for something fun. Do they have a furry friend? Consider stopping by a pet shop. If you have a bookshop in town, stop in and pick up a bestseller or something that will stand out on a coffee table. Finally, a bakery is a great place to pick up something delicious that you can share with a crowd.

Got Time for a DIY?

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 a simple sugar body scrub. 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. 

This article was written by Carolyn Pairitz Morris, Senior Editor at Earnest.

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