I totally get the last-minute holiday gift problem. Believe me! I mean, we may have started amassing ideas for our 2018 Holiday Gift Guide in, like…February, but hey, we’re busy moms. And we’re busy shopping for you sometimes at the expense of our own families. (Oops.)
So no judgments at all if you’re looking for last-minute holiday gift ideas that don’t feel last-minute. We’re here to help.
From gifts that you can buy locally to gifts that you can make, download, DIY, or IOU, I’m pretty sure you’ll find a special something for a special someone on your list.
(And maybe even some good stuff for yourself. Just saying. There are some good deals out there!)
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Top image: Free printable color-your-own Christmas gift wrap from We Are Scout
Last-minute holiday gift idea 1: Books FTW!
I got the Christmas Spirit by Connie Schofield-Morrison and Frank Morrison:
One of our picks for 19 Meaningful holiday gifts for kids this year.
The independent bookstores in your own town are wonderful resources for last-minute gifts for everyone, from kids to grown-ups — and if our procrastination means throwing more support at these amazing shops? Worth it. Stop by yours for some to pick up some of our favorite suggestions:
Christmas books for kids, like The Nutcracker in Harlem, above. So good, you’re going to want to read them too.
Books for kids who celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah which will surely be appreciated.
One of the award-winning children’s and YA books that they haven’t got around to reading just yet.
One of these 7 excellent children’s books about mindfulness (perfect this time of year
A clever new puzzle or activity books for kids to help keep minds sharp and hands engaged
Hit Amazon…or Nordstrom??
We put together a list of all the last-minute shipping deadlines from top stores and you might be surprised to learn that Amazon may not your best bet. Prime members can still get free two-day shipping through 12/22, free overnight shipping through 12/23 in select areas, and possibly even same-day delivery through Prime or Amazon Prime Now.
That said, Amazon is rife with shipping issues this year (and “overnight” shipping that isn’t actually overnight”) so be sure to check out other options. Looks like Target and Nordstrom are offering some of the best, most reliable last-minute shipping deals, and both sell good books!
Try Digital Books
A Kindle, Nook or Audible download is a great gift too. Or try a digital book subscription…which leads us to our next idea.
Last-minute holiday gift idea 2: Reading subscription gifts for kids and adults
We’re fans of all kinds of subscription gifts, from food to clothes and beyond but the gift of reading is always a joy. Here are a few options.
Owlcrate, via Cratejoy, is a new discovery, and was really popular with our readers judging from your reaction to its inclusion in our favorite gift ideas for tweens this year.
The Little Feminist book box delivers monthly empowerment — and we love that.
Just Like Me’s subscription service features a selection of books starring characters of color every month.
For teens and tweens, the Uppercase YA book subscription may be just the ticket.
This baby and toddler subscription is like a Montessori education in a box and it’s really something special
And don’t forget magazines! Highlights for Kids continues to be great for little kids. Kazoo Magazine has smart content for tween girls, Aquila is a fabulous new offering, and we were thrilled to discover Bright Lite, a magazine for tween girls by…tween girls.
Get digital with reading subscriptions
E-books and magazines are just as special for kids and grownups — if maybe a little bit harder to wrap (one gifting suggestion: print out the book cover and present it inside a card). There are tons of wonderful options, too. ‘
Texture puts current and back issues of magazines of every kind at your fingertips at an amazing price.
Pinna is an awesome ad-free podcast app for kids, filled with tons of audio books.
Last-minute holiday gift idea 3: Printable gifts
Printable Love Makes a Family Artwork and lots more instant download options from ArtCoStore on Etsy
There are so many independent artists who do amazing work and are kind enough to share it with the rest of us — all in the form of printable downloads. Some of them are even free, which…wow. Their creations make lovely holiday gifts, and we love supporting them during this season — and all year, really.
Search printable quote art on Etsy and you’ll find so many great, affordable options, like the clean, simple designs from ArtCoStore, above.
Our friend Ursula at KRAFT&MINT made some beautiful posters for kids with empowering quotes from amazing women – frame them for a sweet gift for a baby or child’s room.
You can find everything, from sweet printable sayings for teachers to book-inspired art for kids to inspirational quote art, and cool prints to celebrate moms — and hooray, they just require your own printer, paper, and ink.
I you don’t have the supplies at home, visit any local copy shop, lots of which are open for extended holiday hours.
Last-minute holiday gift idea 4: Food. It’s always a good idea.
Garden Herb Salt Mix from Uproot Kitchen, one of our favorite easy, homemade food gift ideas
Make your own food gifts like you’d find in a store
Nothing says “happy holidays” like something straight from your own kitchen. Finding the time to make your own magical treats for last-minute gifts can be tricky, but we have you covered with some easy recipes — and even tips for packing them.
A great list of easy yet fabulous homemade food gifts for the holidays.
Then we’ve got 9 more easy, homemade food gift ideas from sweet to savory.
Easy food crafts for kids that are fun to do,, and make awesome presents too.
We love the gourmet DIY hot chocolate mixes and gingerbread biscotti recipe from the DIY category of our 2017 holiday gift guide. Festive and yummy.
LOVE these giftable pop culture gingerbread recipes from unicorns to Star Wars to Doctor Who. They’re so Instagrammable. And you can try one of our 10 pretty cookie-packaging techniques to make them extra-gifty!
A DIY gourmet gift basket
Or try making your own DIY food gift basket around a theme, like this Christmas morning coffee gift basket idea at TomKat Studio blog.
Other themes: Chocolate, everything pink, gummy gross-outs, self-care and tea, movie night treats, a hot sauce sampler…you name it.
Free printable DIY cookie envelope from Going Home to Roost
Holiday cookies are never a cop-out. and we can help with that. Here are the best holiday cookie recipes for people who don’t like baking.
Check out these easy holiday cookie swap recipes that are sure to impress.
Another easy one: My own dad’s famous peanut brittle recipe, perfected over 20 years.
On Cool Mom Eats, Anne shared a crazy easy homemade shortbread cookies with lavender salt recipe.
These creative holiday bake sale treats also make fantastic food gifts.
For fun updates on the classics, look at our list of spectacular, semi-homemade, no-bake holiday cookie balls and 7 Christmas bark recipes with a twist, from melted snowmen to hidden reindeer.
And be sure to check this list of 10 clever ways to package holiday cookie gifts so nothing gets broken is so helpful too.
Mantry subscription box for men: It’s so good!
Subscription Food Boxes
On Cool Mom Eats, we’ve put together 19 of the very best food subscription gifts for everyone from coffee drinkers to amateur mixologists to sweet-lovers and kid cooks. Plus, they keep the magic alive after the holidays are over.
You can also give an ecard to SugarWish or Sugarfina so someone lucky has a box full of their sugary faves to look forward to. Perfect for kids, grandparents, or that new mom surviving the fourth trimester.
A gourmet gift from the store
If you’re courageous enough to brave the local mall or your favorite kitchen store or gourmet shop, there are so many ideas! Cool Mom Eats Holiday Gift Guide is filled with great last-minute gift ideas and inspiration for things you can pick up at the store.
Specifically, look at these ideas for fun edible stocking stuffers, gifts for coffee lovers (a Breville Nespresso Creatista will win you lots of points), food gear for kids who like to cook, and even some splurge-y gifts for your favorite foodies. (Two words: Le Creuset.)
Wine and beer gifts will do
Wine is a fantastic last-minute gift idea for so many people on your list. Plus it’s easy to find, suits every budget, and is gratefully received.
These canned wines and cocktails make giving them more fun (you can get many of them in-person at Cost Plus World Market).
Want the best bourbon ever? Peek at our list of 23 ultra cool men’s gifts for our brand of choice.
And you can always make a bottle more festive using one our 7 creative ways to wrap wine for gifting (like the cool labels from Alice and Lois above).
Last-minute holiday gift idea 5: A Digital Subscription (Beyond Books)
Kate at Cool Mom Tech put together an entire list of 20 digital subscription gifts for last-minute gifting, from apps to book subscriptions, music, film and entertainment and a ton more. Wow.
I especially love the idea of a MasterClass subscription (above), featuring remarkable expert-taught video courses. We even included a couple in our list of men’s gifts (Judd Apatow!) and gifts for your hard-to-please mother-in-law (Alice Waters!).
We also just got wind of a new streaming service called Philo, offering 43 of the most popular cable channels for just $16/month (there’s a 56-channel package too) that’s perfect for those of us who really don’t need a package with the sports channels…or the high costs that come with them.
Click over and you’ll find some really smart ideas I think you’ll love.
Last-minute holiday gift idea 6: Cool tech
Everyone is all about tech these days — even kids are tablet and smartphone experts, as you know — so getting a high-tech toy or gift is bound to be a win.
Cool Mom Tech will hook you up with dozens of amazing holiday tech ideas this year.
If you’ve got a gamer, a download of a favorite game for XBox, Playstation, Wii or my kids’ new favorite, Nintendo Switch, is so smart and easy — and instant! In fact, one of my kids might be getting a download for the uber popular Nintendo Super Smash Brothers Ultimate this year, Shhh….
Some of our favorite tech gifts are also the most practical. They’re practically guaranteed to use these suggestions every day.
These STEM toys are so fun, kids won’t realize they’re also educational. We especially like the STEM subscription box for last-minute gifting. Find them in person at the Apple Store or Best Buy.
You can grab lots of these seriously cool tech stocking stuffer ideas at a store near you.
Have a kid obsessed with Fortnite? We can help jar some ideas with this list of fun Fortnite gifts.We’re big believers in adding little touches to make a gift truly special, and that is especially true for tech presents. Add a cool, festive case to that new iPhone (like the cool Kate Spade case at Nordstrom, above), pick up a stylish band to go with the Apple Watch, give your tween some cat-ear headphones to go with their Spotify subscription.
Bonus: Throw in a warranty like Squaretrade instead of what the retailers offer, and give your kid’s new smartphone a deluxe pre-set up (which you’d probably want to do anyway). The little things help add up to great gifts.
Last-minute holiday gift idea 7: Experience gifts and memberships
There’s something wonderful about a present that’s not so much about getting yet another thing — it’s more about creating memories. That’s why we’re big fans of experience gifts. Things like an annual family membership to a local museum, zoo, science center, or indoor play space is a gift really does keep giving throughout the year, as cheesy as that might sound.
Specific experience gifts are fun too — like the unique experience opportunities we rounded up for dads and experience gifts just for kids. Or, above, an indoor skydiving experience. No plane-jumping required! Or consider an Escape Room, a day at a ropes course, a circus class, mini golf, rock climbing — you name it.
My kids are entirely obsessed with Broadway — and especially Be More Chill. Tickets to a show, big or small (maybe a nearby community college is doing Legally Blonde or Phantom of the Opera, who knows) are an awesome last-minute gift.
Is there a whiskey lover in your life who’d love a trip to this Brooklyn distillery we shared in last year’s holiday gift guide? We can think of a few. Or visit a local winery or brewing company.
The holidays are a good excuse to get a little more out-there than usual with your ideas (and wallet). These outrageous birthday party ideas for kids are so much fun, they promise to be unforgettable. (Pajama party at the American Museum of Natural History, anyone?)
Last-minute holiday gift idea 8: Gift subscription boxes
We love how subscription boxes keep the holiday spirit alive all year round (or, you know, just month-to-month if that’s what you prefer). And we love even more that there are so many subscription boxes available, because you’re bound to find something that fits your giftee’s personality. Start with 17 of our favorite subscriptions for kids of all ages to get an idea of just how many different kinds are out there.
Liz shared three favorite subscription boxes on the TODAY Show last year, that are perfect for all kinds of kids!
We recently compared the 3 top kids’ subscription clothing boxes, all of which would be make a fabulous last-minute holiday gift, including Kidbox (above) which gives back to other kids in need.
Got a foodie in mind? On Cool Mom Eats, we’ve put together 19 of the very best food subscription gifts for kids, adults, and adults who act like kids. (Know anyone like that?)
We wouldn’t say “no” to any of these wonderful but practical subscription boxes. A never-ending supply of razors? Toothbrushes? Bring it on.
Board game subscription boxes can keep family game nights fresh.
Food subscription boxes just for kids who love to cook keep the kitchen hopping, like Foodstirs, above.
Causebox is the ultimate do-good subscription gift for women.
Digital subscriptions are perfect for just about everyone — seriously. Movie lovers, audiophiles, lifelong learners, YouTube addicts…everyone. These digital subscription gifts cover them all.
For anyone who’s expecting a baby, we love the Stork Bag subscription service or the new Monti Kids subscription filled with super luxe wooden Montessori toys for babies and toddlers.
Note: while these boxes themselves may not make it under the tree by December 25, you can have a lot of fun presenting them anyway. Think creatively, using printable gift tag, fun gift wrap, or send everyone on a scavenger hunt around the house, complete with clues, to track down the final gift card.
Last-minute gift idea 9: DIY gifts or crafts from the kids
DIY Sparkle Unicorn Ornaments from Hello Wonderful
Aw, it’s hard to go wrong with handmade and DIY gifts that kids can make. Almost everyone on your list is going to swoon (and let’s be honest, making them keeps kids nice and busy in the days leading up to the holidays).
These food crafts for kids are easy and totally adorable.
Our roundup of cool DIY holiday gifts includes the homemade sparkle unicorn ornaments (above), Sharpie mugs, woven beaded bracelets, potpourri pouches, essential oil gifts and so much more — all projects that you can do with your kids.
Here are a bunch of easy handmade ornaments for kids – perfection.
Kids will love making Santa slime for their friends from this recipe from The Best Ideas for Kids. Because, slime.
Also…more slime. Because, more slime.
For something a little more sentimental — mom, dad, grandparents — be sure to check out the sweet handmade craft gifts that kids can make for that we included in our Mother’s Day guide. Hearts will melt! We’ve got handmade gift ideas for dads, too.
Love this super simple last-minute DIY idea that Kate just shared, from the kids to the grandparents — and it takes no time and no money,. Really!
We also have lots of easy DIY cards for moms that can be adapted for anyone else in the family, and special DIY Valentine’s Day gifts from kids to their friends that can be perfect this time of year, too.
Last-minute gift idea 10: Photos + videos
via Chica Circle
Family photos are incredibly special to receive as gifts, and even more so when they’re not unceremoniously emailed (though we’ll take that too). And man oh man do we have some great suggestions for gifting them — even if it is last-minute.
You can never go wrong with a family photo! Check out these creative kids’ portraits ideas, and all you have to do is add a frame. We’ve also got tips for taking better holiday photos of your kids.
This DIY idea transforms phone photos into ornaments for the tree, as seen above from Chica Circle.
This app lets you add digital photos (and video!) to paper cards.
Here’s a way for a holiday group card to just keep on giving.
You can also turn your photos and videos into a gift using free, easy services like Animoto or one of these video editing app. The end products are still incredibly thoughtful and personal, and worth cherishing.
Last-minute gift idea 11: Beauty and spa gifts
I love this sparkly Sultry shadow palette by Anastasia, above, found at a recent trip to recent sponsor Sephora inside JCPenney, and that I included in my list of the hottest gifts right now to make you sparkle, glimmer and shine.
Also check out these favorite fab beauty products that make terrific last-minute beauty gifts for everyone on your list.
Anthropologie and Target also offer body and beauty gifts in every price range. From a new shaving product for a special guy in your life to bath bombs, fragrance, and gift sets of all kinds.
Check out the awesome subscription box in our guide to self-care gifts for anyone who needs a little me time. Perfect for nearly everyone after the kind of year this has been.
Ooh, and what about the idea of gifting the opportunity for a beauty fanatic in your life to design their own shampoo and conditioner?
Also take a look around at local drugstores and boutiques. Liz swears by City Chemist in NYC, which always has gifts from high-end brands like Tata Harper, Smashbox and Dr Hauschka. And? This close to the holidays, they’re often on sale.
Pro tip: Stop by local hair salons, spas, and gyms, which tend to stock cool, on-trend beauty products.
Last-minute gift idea 12: A DIY custom gift basket
Zombie Survival Kit | Sandy Toes & Popsicles
Kristen swears by making themed personalized gift baskets when she needs a last-minute gift. We cosign the idea! Start with this DIY gift basket tutorial. Whatever you do will be well-received, provided you create it with the particular person in mind. (Like, now’s not the time to put together a cookie basket for someone starting Whole 30 next month.)
You could give someone who you just know would love bingeing The Crown a Netflix subscription, microwave popcorn, and a tiara, all in a cute box.
Give someone the gift of chill with a gift card to a spa, some nail polishes; or one of the beauty gift ideas above.
If DIYing still isn’t your thing, remember there are expertly curated gift baskets that don’t feel corporate or cookie cutter at all — check with these local chocolatiers around the US, for example.
Last-minute holiday gift idea 13: Gift cards, but cooler.
DIY Felt Gift Card Holder | Paper & Stitch
If you think that gift cards are impersonal, stop right there — most people really do appreciate them. And we’ve got some creative ideas for giving them.
Take a look at the cool DIY and printable gift card holder ideas like the one above. Cute mini envelopes make every card look more exciting (and also provide good places to stash gift receipts).
Everyone loves a card to their favorite store, restaurant chain, Apple Music or Google Play, but we love supporting smaller local and independent businesses — coffee houses, salons, toy stores, restaurants and boutiques. And they often have their own gift certificates for sale.
Oh, and did you know you often don’t have to go to the s place to purchase gift cards? This is a fantastic tip for procrastinators (like us, ha): stores like CVS, Target, Duane Reade, and local grocery stores all carry a wide variety. You may be hitting those places in the next few days anyway for cards or last-minute gift wrap or hand soap, so you can stock up without going out of your way .
There’s always e-gift cards too. Yay for shopping in your PJs!
Last-minute gift idea 14: A thoughtful charitable donation
Donations to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust helps orphaned baby elephants like Emoli and Maisha
This is the one kind gift that may be last-minute, but it’s never last in our hearts.
If you’re looking for ideas for where to give, start with own staff’s favorite charities. As you might guess, we’re all personally partial to charities that support mothers and families, like the Good Plus Foundation, and charitable organizations that provide gainful employment.
This year, immigrant kids and families at the US border need extra special support, and there are so many incredible organizations doing just that.
We love shops that give back, and loves this list of 35 fabulous gifts that give back to 35 fabulous causes can really use your support.
Also check this list of gifts that give back to first responders, especially those battling the tragic California fires this year.
Weather-wise, it’s been a tough couple of years for so many. There are organizations that still need help for the people of Puerto Rico.
One of our very favorite donations: Give to Donors Choose in someone’s honor, specifically to the projects they love: Science, arts, animals, nature, or anything., whether it’s science-based, the arts, or coding. (It’s also one of our top meaningful gifts for kids this year.) Some charitable organizations and foundations are even offering 10x matching gifts for some projects right now! That means you can fully fund a $1000 classroom project for just $100.
Now that’s a gift that keeps on giving.