For all you out there needing last-minute Christmas gifts, we got you! My son’s gotten into the habit of asking Alexa how many days are left until Christmas and while it was pretty adorable at first, it can incite a little panic now that we’ve hit the single digits.
If you’re also feeling the heat, so to speak, do yourself a favor and check out this thoughtful list of last-minute gifts that don’t feel last-minute at all.
We’ve got subscriptions, books, experience gifts, gift cards, treats, and ideas for shopping locally. You can also browse our extensive holiday gift guide and find clever ways to give an IOU for items, too! Some gifts really are are worth the wait.
But of course remember, the most important thing is YOU. Connecting with the people we love, IRL or by phone or by Zoom, that’s really the spirit of the season. Now more than ever.
– Updated for 2021 –
The best last-minute holiday gift ideas: You got this!
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Last-minute holiday gift idea 1:
An autographed copy of Dave Grohl: The Storyteller: One of our picks for creative gift ideas for the man who has everything.
The independent bookstores in your own town are wonderful resources for last-minute gifts for everyone, from kids to grown-ups — and lots of them gift-wrap for you! Just one more reason we want to support our local bookshops.
Stop by your local bookstore for some to pick up some of our favorite last-minute gift book ideas:
– Christmas books for kids, or 3 terrific books for children who celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah
– must-read books for kids who like video games because any genre is a good genre!
– One of the award-winning children’s and YA books this year that the kids haven’t got around to reading just yet.
– A clever new puzzle or activity books for kids to help keep minds sharp and hands engaged
– For a new baby, our entire 2021-22 Baby Shower Gift Guide is packed with ideas.
– Also check out Time’s list of the 100 best YA novels of all-time. Wow.
– And of course for adults, there are SO many great ideas — The Lightmaker’s Manifesto by Karen Walrond is a new favorite, or see our book recommendations for those hard-to-shop-for guys, like the new Dave Grohl memoir, above.
Hit Amazon…or Nordstrom. Or Target. Or the local drugstore.
Prime members can still get free two-day shipping through 12/23, or by 12/24, get free same-day delivery through Prime or Amazon Prime Now or Pantry. But as we all know, the post office is woefully delayed this year (through no fault of the postal carriers, get them a little something too!), so if it’s urgent…maybe consider other options.
Luckily Target offers curbside pickup or same day delivery of books — they’re a good source for new cookbooks, too. Nordstrom also offers curbside or order in-store pickup and they’ll even gift wrap for you free! And yes, they have some cool gift books too.
Try Digital Books for the 21st century
A Kindle, Nook or Audible audio book download is a great last-minute gift that you can have delivered the second you press purchase.
I’m also partial to Libro.fm which supports indie booksellers.
Speaking of digital book subscriptions…
Last-minute holiday gift idea 2:
Reading subscription gifts for kids and adults
Here are a few options that make fabulous last-minute gifts;
For Purpose Kids from our list of unique subscription boxes that teach kids kindness and gratitude
– There are so many great book subscription gifts for kids via Cratejoy. or check Owlcrate, one of our favorite gift ideas for tweens this year.
– These 3 subscription boxes that teach kindness are also wonderful.
– The Little Feminist book box delivers monthly empowerment — and we adore 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.
– 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 Bright Lite is a a magazine for tween girls by…tween girls.
– Our newest find is Mighty Kind, a fun, compassionate, anti-racism, pro-kindness magazine for today’s kids.
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, here too. Check out these 5 different audiobook subscriptions for ebook readers. (Also great for travel!)
Pinna is an awesome ad-free podcast app for kids, filled with tons of audio books.
The Epic! app offers unlimited kids’ ebooks (good ones) monthly or yearly.
Last-minute holiday gift idea 3:
Ted Lasso printable Christmas print at Ampersands and Arrows
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.
Our friend Ursula at KRAFT&MINT made some free posters to download 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 prints from Black children’s book authors 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.
If 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.
Corgi marshmallow hot cocoa bombs from Uproot Kitchen
Make your own gourmet 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.
First, check our giant list of more than 200+ homemade holiday gift ideas which includes lots of links to our favorite food gift ideas.
A few worth calling out:
-The amazing DIY chocolate bombs (one cool one, above) that are totally trending right now.
– I think these 16 mason jar food gifts are sweet for teachers and neighbors.
– A great list of easy yet fabulous homemade food gifts for the holidays.
– Christmas bark is always a favorite, and it’s easy too.
-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.
– Homemade liquor gifts? Very popular this year!
– LOVE these giftable pop culture gingerbread recipes from unicorns to Star Wars to Doctor Who. They’re so Instagrammable.
And whether you’re making cookies or buying, try one of our 10 festive ways to package holiday cookies to make them extra-gifty!
A DIY gourmet gift basket
It’s not hard to make your DIY food gift basket around a theme, like this Christmas morning coffee gift basket idea at TomKat Studio blog. Other themes to consider: Chocolate, everything pink, gummy gross-outs, self-care and tea, movie night treats (with copycat movie theater candy recipes?), a hot sauce sampler…you name it.
It’s easy to put together, and will save you a ton from those gift basket companies if you’re able to deliver it in person as a sweet last-minute gift.
Holiday cookies are never a cop-out. And we can help with that. We even organized a virtual cookie exchange this year to let our readers share their favorite tried-and-true recipes.
– Not a culinary pro? Check out the best holiday cookie recipes for people who don’t like baking. Or try these easy holiday cookie swap recipes that are sure to impress.
– 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.
– Simple: 5 thumbprint cookie recipes that are almost too gorgeous to eat. Almost.
– 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.
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.
Shopping for a whole family? Try these fabulous food gifts for families, which includes tons of last-minute options.
You can also give an ecard to SugarWish or Sugarfina so someone lucky can select their own box full of their sugary (or savory) 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 can safely visit a local gift shop or your favorite kitchen store or gourmet shop, there are so many last-minute gift 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 like these practical gifts for home cooks, which we all are these days.
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.)
Mail-order cookies from the best bakeries around the country — who could say no? Even if they get an IOU for now.
We love all of these gifts supporting favorite NYC food institutions you may not know — yes, they deliver! Sometimes overnight, or a gift card can be just the ticket.A
nd these gift ideas for men supporting Black-owned businesses aren’t just for men and dads, trust us!
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.
We love the idea of a Minibar Gift Card, included in this year’s list of creative gift ideas for the man who has everything.
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)
We recently 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.
We also have 8 of the best STEM, tech, and geeky subscription gifts just for kids.
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 favorite men’s gifts (Judd Apatow! Spike Lee! Tony Hawk! Robin Roberts!) and gifts for your hard-to-please mother-in-law (Alice Waters!).
Click over and you’ll find some really smart ideas I think you’ll love.
Last-minute holiday gift idea 6:
Cool tech, of course.
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.
Here are our team’s tried-and-true favorite video games to play together as a family. If you have all those, check out these just-launched video games for families.
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 for a last-minute holiday gift — and instant! If your kids don’t yet have Animal Crossing, they’ll be thrilled with an instant download.
If you don’t know what the gamers in your life want to play, a Nintendo gift card (or Xbox or Playstation) lets them pick out their own favorite.
For smaller gifts, don’t miss this smart list of tech gift ideas under $25.
Have a kid obsessed with Fortnite? We can help jar some ideas with this list of fun Fortnite gifts — beyond just time to play more Fortnite.
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 or a Bluetooth speaker; Nordstrom has a ton of cool tech gifts like the case above, or hit any local drug store, department store, or big box store for something fun.
Try a pair of headphones, pick up a stylish band to go with the Apple Watch, give your tween some cat-ear headphones to go with a Spotify or Apple Music subscription. Or give teens an Etsy gift card they can use to jollify their phone the way they want.
Last-minute holiday gift idea 7:
Experience gifts and memberships. Maybe virtual ones.
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.
With COVID stats still uncomfortably high, we’re loving these virtual experience gift ideas for kids and adults. They may be online, but they’re fun, we promise! Then again, an IOU to support a local theater, concert venue, or other performing arts institution would be wonderful — both for the venue and for your giftee.
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 40+ of our favorite subscriptions for kids of all ages to get an idea of just how many different kinds are out there. 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.
For those tough-to-shop-for men in your lives, we’ve got these cool subscription boxes for men.
Board game subscription boxes can keep family game nights fresh.
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 either. A never-ending supply of razors? Toothbrushes? The best sponges ever in the age of Covid? Bring it on.
Food subscription boxes just for kids who love to cook keep the kitchen hopping, like Foodstirs, above. While Preschool Chef’s Club is a great option if you have younger kids you’re trying to involve in the kitchen.
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.
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.
Aw, it’s hard to go wrong with handmade. Check out our guides to:
– Last minute DIY holiday gifts for friends. And family, who you like enough to call friends, all new for 2021
– 15 thoughtful DIY gifts for teenage girls that they can make their own friends, or you can make for them.
– Lots of handmade and DIY gifts that kids can make themselves. (and it keeps them nice and busy this week!)
Be sure to check this giant list of more than 200+ homemade holiday gift ideas where you’ll find DIY gifts for boyfriends, girlfriends, men, women, kids, neighbors, teachers…including lots the kids can make.
Also, these food crafts for kids are easy and totally adorable.
Our roundup of 20 more cool DIY holiday gifts includes Sharpie mugs, woven beaded bracelets, potpourri pouches, essential oil gifts and so much more — all projects that you can do with your kids, depending on your crafting level.
For something sweet and simple, our readers have been loving these cool origami ornament tutorials, which I think would make awesome gifts along with any of these 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.
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 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
Family photos are incredibly special to receive as gifts, especially for family we haven’t seen nearly enough this year. These gifts get even more special 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.
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 so thoughtful and personal, and worth cherishing.
Last-minute gift idea 11:
Beauty and pampering gifts
There’s no doubt as to how many cool beauty gifts await you in person at your local chemist, pharmacy, or gift shop so start there! If you are thinking Sephora or Ulta, they have lots of last-minute gift ideas on sale, plus you can order for quick in-store pickup. You might even find one of our fave tech beauty gifts there.
You don’t have to spend hundreds though — check out these 7 beauty splurges that are totally worth it for a body scrub or a massage oil that make amazing last-minute gifts.
Some stores, like Lush, are even offering same-day delivery through Doordash, if you don’t have time to brave the mall.(I became obsessed with good lash enhancing mascaras like Two-Faced in this, The Year of Face Masks.
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: Contact your local hair salons, spas, and gyms, which tend to stock cool, on-trend beauty products and can really use the support.
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! 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 — but it could be a great time for a winter pandemic pantry restock.)
Start with this DIY gift basket tutorial and then go wild. But need some idea starters?
ou could give someone who you just know would love bingeing The Crown Netflix subscription and one of these cool The Crown fan gifts, along with some microwave popcorn, and a tiara, all in a cute box.
Have a Ted lasso diehard in your life? Gather a few of these cool Ted Lasso gifts, plus some of their favorite brew and of course homemade biscuits, and you’re good to go.
Give someone the gift of chill with a beauty basket and lots of scented candles and bath bombs.
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. Or even local restaurants will put together something for you — and you can order from a favorite in the neighborhood of whoever you’re shopping for.
Last-minute holiday gift idea 13:
Gift cards, done 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. Especially our teens! 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 now more than ever — coffee houses, salons, toy stores, restaurants, salons, 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 say Sephora to purchase a Sephora gift card? This is a fantastic tip for procrastinators (like us, ha): stores like CVS, Target, Duane Reade, Walgreens, 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. (Don’t forget Etsy gift cards.) And yay for shopping in your PJs!
Last-minute gift idea 14:
A thoughtful charitable donation
Donations to the Feeding America Covid-19 Relief fund do a lot of good right now.
This is the one kind of gift that may be last-minute, but it’s never last in our hearts.
It’s hard to know where to even begin, but foremost on our minds is a donation to local food banks, the #ChefsforAmerican initiative of World Central Kitchen, or orgs like Feeding America Covid-19 Relief fund to help support the unconscionable number of food-insecure Americans right now.
A donation to one of the many charities helping tornado victims would also be meaningful.
Also consider donations that support independent journalism, donations supporting small businesses — especially Black- and women-owned businesses hit hard by the pandemic — as well as civil liberties and Black Lives Matter efforts, local and national bail funds, donations supporting performing arts and artists, environmental justice… what matters to the person you’re giving to?
If you pick the right organization, nothing will be more meaningful to them.
Finally, with public schools and school kids suffering this year, as we all well know, one of our very favorite nonprofits remains Donors Choose. Make a donation in someone’s honor, specifically to the projects they love: Science, arts, animals, nature, or anything, whether it’s science-based, the arts, or basic supplies. (It’s also one of our top meaningful gifts for kids each year.)
Some charitable organizations and foundations are even offering 5x matching gifts for some projects right now! That means you can fully fund a $500 classroom project for just $100. Now that’s a gift that keeps on giving. And even if it’s a last-minute gift, it goes just as far as one you picked out months ago.
Top image: Jonathan Borba via Unsplash