Countdown to Christmas – Last Minute & Backup Gift Ideas

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Countdown to Christmas – Last Minute & Backup Gift Ideas

It’s the final week! 7 more days until Christmas! One more week to get the rest of your shopping, wrapping, planning, preparing and traveling all done.

With all the excitement during the holiday rush it happens from time to time that you find yourself empty-handed for the giving but on the receiving end of an unexpected gifter. If you’re like me and have a long list of family and friends to buy for during the holidays, it’s bound to come up. Maybe the brother brings the girl he has been dating for a short while who you have only met a couple times; Maybe a distant cousin shows up for the family dinner; Or that crazy uncle of yours that no one knew was coming. Whatever the case may be, being prepared for the unexpected is the way to go. Now’s the time to stock up on some extras to keep you covered. And hey, even if you don’t forget anyone (good job!) there’s still plenty of reason to go ahead and buy that extra thingamajig for your “just in case” clause. The holidays are great times to score big deals on items you may need in the coming year. And unless all of your friends and family are leap year babies, everyone you know has a birthday coming up in the next twelve months. Why not save yourself some cash and get a jump on that shopping too?

So here’s my list of some thoughtful items that never lose style, can double as a quick gift in a pinch or be put up for a gift later and can fall under any price point or budget:

1) Wine. Folks, wine is the #1 item for a number of reasons: First, it never loses style; Second, it’s universal. It’s a great Christmas gift,  hostess gift, congratulatory gift, birthday gift, etc;  And Third, it’s unisex so you’re covered if you need a gift for a him or a her. Wine also will keep for as long as you need it to – the longer the better in fact. Hell, if you manage to keep it for long enough (which I realize doesn’t usually happen) it may become an even better gift than when you bought it. Just make sure you store it properly. When shopping wines without a particular person in mind, try to stick with the more familiar blends that are popular with most palettes (i.e., Pinot Grigio, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, or Chardonnay). Next, Avoid Labels. If you’re not sure who this gift is for then try to avoid labels that scream girly-girly-froo-froo or bachelor pad.

You can go simple with a bow tied around the bottleneck or a wine gift bag or box. When you’re making your Christmas rounds from parties to family gatherings wine is a great back up to keep in the car for any “just in case” moment.  And they don’t take up much space so you can pack a few if you need to.

2) Winter Accessories. This could be just about anything from ice scrapers to coats but to keep it simple and easy (and make sure you’re covered no matter who it ends up being for) I would stick with some of the ideal standards. A nice scarf can be a perfect gift for a guy or girl. Stick with a pattern and color that’s not too feminine or masculine. Plaids are ideal because they incorporate many colors and compliment a number of styles. A pageboy hat is another ideal item that is unisex. Solid colors like black, brown or grey go with just about anything and anyone’s wardrobe.  A thermos or coffee mug can also be a great gift idea to keep on hand. And if you want to add a nice personal touch you could make a jar of cocoa mix* to go along with it. (*See #4). A nice cozy throw blanket is also great for the season.

3) Sports Novelties. If you come from a sports family then it’s a pretty safe bet that something spotlighting your favorite team will go over just fine with whoever receives it. Think cups/mugs, keychains, bottle openers/bar sets, etc. that can be used by anyone and are practical just in case they’re not a mutual big fan of sports or your team so they can still get use out of it.

4) Homemade for the Holidays. Whether it’s homemade cocoa mix, dip mixes, soup mix, spiced nuts, an ornament, it screams creativity and also adds a caring touch to your gift. And mixes can go a long way so you can just as easily make five gifts as you can one. You can get a few inexpensive baskets from the dollar store and add a few things to make it a nice gift basket. Perhaps a bowl and spreader to go with the dip mix, an ornament or two, a coffee mug to go with the cocoa or bowls for the soup. Just a few items like this together can make a very nice gift with a beautiful presentation.

5) Gift Cards. I saved this one for last because I’m not particularly a fan. It’s not that it’s not a great idea. I mean, it’s unisex, and with Visa/American Express or Mastercard gift cards they can use it anywhere and not just at a particular store so you’re covered for anyone. My trouble with this is the dollar amount and lack of thought that it gives off. (Granted if you’re buying them as a back up for someone you may have forgotten then obviously you’re guilty of the lack of thought thing anyway). But, not being sure who it may be for may make it hard to decide what amount to buy. $10 may be too little and $50 may be too much. You could buy several but you don’t want to just give someone an unwrapped gift card straight from your wallet with no card or envelope or anything. Plus with most of them having an average activation fee of  $3.95 it doesn’t make much sense to be walking around with several of them in your wallet. If you do go this route just make sure they don’t expire in case you don’t end up needing to gift them right away. Most gift cards never expire but some lose their value little by little over time. Be sure to read the fine print on the back before you purchase them.

Want some other gift ideas for your last minute shopping? Try these for some of the special people in your life:

FOR HER: 

For the Bookworm or Foodie – Whether a classic and recently released on the big screen like “The Great Gatsby” or a brand spanking new cookbook like Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman’s “Year of Holidays” you can’t really go wrong with a good read.

For the Trendster – Beanie hats and fingerless gloves are also hot winter items for the younger ladies in your life.

A little Pampering – Regardless of what type of lady is on your list, there is at least one service she could really use right now from one of her local salons/spas. Whether it’s a mani/pedi, facial, massage or just a hair cut and color every woman enjoys and deserves a little bit of pampering.

The Drinker – Wine like a nice pink moscato or riesling are sweet and favorites of many women.

FOR HIM:

For the Comedian – Books may not be on every guy’s wish list but the new book “Ron Burgundy: Let Me Off At The Top! My Classy Life and Other Musings” is sure to be a hit with the movie and comedy lover in your life.

For the Outdoorsman – A fisherman can never have enough tackle; A hunter never enough camo; or for the general outdoorsmen a pair of binoculars or even a tree / bird guide for their nature walks can make a great gift.

For the Sports Fanatic – A sports fan loves anything with their favorite team on it from a tee shirt or hoodie to grilling sets, camping chair, towels, bar sets / glasses, etc.

The Drinker – Craft beer or a good bottle of ‘grandpa’s cough syrup’ never lose style.

Happy shopping!

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