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Last Minute Holiday Gift Ideas

December is the season of holidays, visiting, and gifting. For those of you who have a holiday gathering to attend but have not yet had time to get a gift, don’t worry, there are plenty of options out there that are both fun and easy to prepare at home, or pick up last minute. Here are a few of our favorite last minute holiday gift ideas, so you never have to walk into a holiday event empty handed!

Gift Cards


The gift card rack at my neighborhood Rite-Aid.

The easiest quick pickup, by far, is a pre-paid gift card. Major pharmacies, like CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens carry them, as well as popular stores like Home Depot. You can find gift cards starting as low as $15 for major retailers like Whole Foods, Amazon, iTunes, Old Navy, and TJ Maxx. If you know they’re looking for something, find a gift card for a place that would have that item, or pick up a Visa or AmEx gift card. In the end, you are buying them the gift that lets them choose! To make it a bit more personal, pick up a card (or make your own!) and slide the gift certificate inside. If the gift of organization is what you’re looking for, check out our gift certificates!

Holiday Scratch Off


Holiday scratch-offs sold at my local magazine store.

If you are really short on time (or cash) a fun gift is a $1 holiday scratch off. It’s perfect for handing out to colleagues at work holiday parties, or to young adult cousins at your family gathering. Last year I was given a holiday scratch off at a party and I won $7 – it was really fun! And you never know, your $1 gift could turn into big bucks. I’ve heard stories about scratch off winnings as high as $50!



Boxes of clementines at my local Whole Foods.

The holidays are loaded with sweet treats, so while cookies and cakes are appreciated, what people will enjoy even more is fresh fruit. For years I have been bringing boxed clementines as holiday gifts. I add a holiday ribbon and tape a card to the top; it’s a fun, cheerful and lovely-smelling gift to hand to your host at the front door. It’s also super easy to serve to guests, no cutting or washing required. And everybody loves them; have you seen the Halos commercials? (Kids love clementines! Adults do too!). At this time of the year boxed clementines can easily be found in your local grocery store. Enjoy this healthy alternative sure to be appreciated by those who might otherwise reach for a sugary treat they’d really rather avoid.

Homemade Goodness

Blog_Last_Minute_Gift_Homemade Goodness

Tiny gingerbread cookies I baked and gifted one year with a friend.

This one may require a quick trip to the grocery store, but once you have your flour, sugar, and eggs on hand, in a matter of hours you can bake up some fun holiday cookies to bring to a gathering. Look in the baking section of your local grocery store for a holiday-shaped cookie cutter to make the treat especially festive. If you’re really short on time, grab pre-made cookie dough in the refrigerator or freezer section. For those of your with dietary needs on your mind, Pillsbury now sells gluten-free products. This is a great alternative, just make certain to tape a note to the cookies so that when they are put out on a holiday table guests will know they are gluten-free as well.

A Charitable Donation

Blog_Last_Minute_Gifts_Donate to a charity

Gift Card,

Another great idea is to donate to charity on someone’s behalf. Find an organization that may mean something to the person receiving the gift. Here’s a nice post on about how to donate a gift on behalf of someone, or visit the charity search engine on at for a list of organizations.

A Card and a Smile!


Give the gift of you – and your smile!

When you’ve truly run out of time, simply arrive at your destination with a card and a smile! Kindly remind yourself that the holidays are for sharing and your host has invited you for celebration and good cheer! And if all else fails, take a look at your own cabinet for a bottle of wine. Tie a ribbon on it, and bring it along. People always appreciate kind words and even the smallest of gifts.

Have a fun last minute gift idea? Share in the comments below!

Photo Credit: Maeve Richmond

Maeve Richmond is the founder and head coach of Maeve's Method, a home organization system based in New York City. She specializes in parents & kids, couples, small space solutions, space planning and decorative elements for the home. Contact her at or @MaeveRichmond.

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