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11 Last Minute Gift Ideas

Run out of time? Need to get a gift pronto? Hey, it happens! Here are several of our favorite ideas for last minute gifts.

By A Little Birdie | Posted on December 19, 2017 in Gift Ideas


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Classes - online or off - often make great last minute gifts. For example, a budding baker might enjoy a buttercream flower course.

Classes - online or off - often make great last minute gifts. For example, a budding baker might enjoy a buttercream flower course.
© Little Birdie Me

The holiday season is often a busy time of year, there’s no doubt about that. For some though, it’s not just fun, celebratory busy-ness, it’s work-related busy-ness, and, occasionally, that means we aren’t able to get to the stores or to make that gift we were hoping to make. If you’ve been caught unawares by your schedule and are empty-handed, facing down the specter of showing up giftless, we’re here to save your bacon!

Here are eleven of our best last-minute gift ideas - we hope one of them fits the bill:

  1. GIFT OF THE MONTH CLUB. By definition, when you give a gift-of-the-month membership to someone, you’re not expected to show up with something in hand, except perhaps a nice card indicating when the first parcel is expected to show up. Depending on your recipient’s gustatory and/or hobby-related interests, here are a few you might consider exploring: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream’s pint club, a Formaggio Kitchen or Murray’s Cheese monthly cheese subscription, EHChocolatier’s artisan chocolate club, a Beer of the Month Club subscription, a La Colombe coffee subscription, a LittleStampStore rubber stamp subscription, or a monthly fishing fly subscription from Postfly. Final note: if your recipient is a keen pet parent, do check out the pet-related subscription services we highlighted as idea #18 in our list of “50 Great Gift Ideas.”

  2. PORTRAIT BY A LOCAL ARTIST OR PHOTOGRAPHER. Because your recipient’s participation is required for a portrait, this is another gift where you simply can’t show up with the finished product in hand. However, we DO recommend doing a bit of research on local artists and their fees, narrowing it down to one that fits both your budget and your recipient’s aesthetic. Even better, contact the artist to check on their availability. Alternately, you could opt for an artist who renders a portrait from a photograph (like those we highlighted at position #29 on our recent list of 50 gift ideas) and ask your recipient to choose the photo they would like used. Like to have something in hand to give? We recommend printing out a sample of the artist’s work and presenting a little mini portfolio along with the details of the kind of portrait you will commission.

Any great upcoming concerts? Tickets to special events often make for memorable gifts.

Any great upcoming concerts? Tickets to special events often make for memorable gifts.
© Little Birdie Me

  1. TICKETS TO AN EVENT OR CONCERT. If your recipient is into music, theater, opera or dance, check out local listings. Is there something awesome coming up in the next few months? Lock in those tickets now and, bim, bam, boom, in most cases you’ve got yourself instant, printable tickets to give! Optional bonus: pair the tickets with a pre-performance cocktail, a glass of Champagne somewhere nice, or a meal at a restaurant your recipient has been longing to try.

  2. LOCAL MEMBERSHIP, CLASS OR EXPERIENCE. Does your recipient love art? Love rock climbing? Going hiking? Consider membership to a local museum, rock climbing center or the state’s parks and beaches. Or, maybe your recipient has always been curious about pottery, basket weaving, or woodworking? Or, perhaps, improving their cooking skills or buttercream flower artistry? Check out local websites to see if you can get them signed up for a class! Or, maybe they fancy skydiving, riding in a hot air balloon or foraging for mushrooms? These types of experiences may well be offered locally - or not far from where your recipient lives - have a scout about and you may be surprised at the fantastic types of excursions you can give as gifts!

  3. COUPON BOOK. Short on funds but want to give generously? There are few things more valuable than time and an extra pair of hands. Create a coupon book for your recipient, committing to render certain duties on demand. Coupons for the following are often readily appreciated: a thorough car cleaning, snow shoveling, and babysitting - and if you are a kitchen whiz or baker extraordinaire, consider a coupon for game day snacks, dips and nibbles, or a gorgeously delicious birthday cake. If you’re handy with a paintbrush, a coupon for painting a new nursery for parents-to-be, or giving a garden fence a fresh coat, are also worthy coupon candidates. Basically, if you’ve got time and/or skills, chances are you are already rich with gifts to give!

  4. A MASSAGE, SPA TIME OR BARBER SHAVE. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again - a little pampering rarely goes amiss. If your recipient has indicated a favorite spa, salon or barbershop in the Favorite Shops module of their Little Birdie Me gift profile, you’re sorted. Get online, make that call, or swing on by to get your hands on a gift card or certificate. If your recipient does not yet have a Little Birdie Me profile, invite them pronto - and, in the meantime, Google searches were made for tasks such as this. Seek out local establishments that provide the massage, pedicure or hot shave that you are looking to give, and try to find a place that is well reviewed by more than one or two folks. Consider negative comments about customer service and/or hygiene standards to be red flags. On the other hand, overwhelmingly positive reviews and customer service compliments will likely indicate you’ve hit the gifting jackpot!

  5. BACKUP SERVICE. Does your recipient take lots of photos? Are they a budding author? Do they run a small business? Most folks would be pretty devastated if they lost everything on their computer but, we suspect these folks even more so - where it’s a matter of your creative output or your hard-earned work. May we suggest the gift of digital serenity and peace of mind? Cloud backup services like Backblaze or Carbonite offer continuous, unlimited backup and, depending on the selected plan, include external drives too, a set-up particularly common to budding photographers.

  6. PET PAMPERING. Gifting to someone who is crazy about their pet(s)? Then, we put forth the hypothesis that perhaps the gift that will bring the look of delight to their face is not something for them per se, but rather for Fido or Whiskers. Know of a marvelous, local groomer? Or, fancy a little Googling to find a highly-rated establishment? Boom. Gift certificate sorted.

Reserve a table at a top notch local restaurant - Giulia is one of our favorites here in Cambridge.

Reserve a table at a top notch local restaurant - Giulia is one of our favorites here in Cambridge.
© Little Birdie Me

  1. RESERVATION AT A SPECIAL RESTAURANT. Is your recipient passionate about food? Or, perhaps just passionate about having a night off - where there are no dishes to be done, no dishwasher to empty? Give your recipient a night on the town at a restaurant they have been dying to try - or a special occasion favorite. Make the booking now - OpenTable and Reserve are your friends here - and take a few minutes to work up a lovely invitation to present to your recipient. Optional bonus points for following up the reservation by calling ahead to organize a glass of welcome bubbles for your recipient.

  2. SUBSCRIPTION TO A WEB-BASED CLASSROOM OR ONLINE TOOL. Gifting to a crafter? A lifelong student? A photographer? A designer? Consider a subscription to an online service that will help them delve deeper into their favorite hobby. Websites like Craftsy, Lynda.com are worth checking out - as are subscription-based applications like those in the Adobe family.

  3. THE BEST HOODIE IN THE WORLD. We believe it was Farhad Manjoo’s article for Slate, published in 2012, that was the first to flag American Giant’s hoodie (available for both men and women) as “the best sweatshirt known to man.” That article proved so convincing that the relatively young company sold out of practically everything in about 36 hours. Now, several years on, they have adjusted to the high demand. We can personally vouch for the quality of their sweatshirts, and really love ours. What’s more - and what’s relevant to last minute gifting - is they offer a fantastic option called “GiftNow” where you can buy an item for someone and have them notified via e-mail. Then the recipient gets to go online, make any adjustments to size (or choose another item entirely) before the shipment goes out, thereby minimizing the need for returns and exchanges. The genius thing about this though is not just that it allows your recipient to fine tune the order to their satisfaction, but you can schedule the notification e-mail for whenever you want - today, tomorrow, two weeks hence. Et voilà, problem solved! You look like a master of efficiency for gifting this way, moreover you have gifted something that will be greatly appreciated by any coder, artist, weekend lounger, couch cuddler, and/or student on your list. Side note: sizes run a little smaller than we are used to (especially the slim fit items) so we recommend ordering a size up or, if not that, ordering the larger of any two sizes you are considering.

Hopefully one or more of these ideas proves to be a winner for you - we know from personal experience that the last minute scramble can be a bit of a mad dash and wish you good luck and happy holidays!

Tags: apparel, gift cards and certificates, gifts for her, gifts for him, gifts suitable for anyone, our favorite online vendors, pampering gifts, practical gifts, useful gifts


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