For all you out there needing last-minute Christmas gifts (or ahem, New Year’s gifts), we got you! 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.
And don’t miss: Our complete 2023 Holiday Gift Guide. (IOUs can be good gifts too!)
But of course remember, the most important thing is you. Connecting with the people we love, IRL, over FaceTime, by phone or by Zoom –that’s really the spirit of the season. Now more than ever.
The best last-minute holiday gift ideas:
So Many Ideas… You’ve Got This!
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1. Last-minute holiday gift idea: Books! Audiobooks! E-books!
2. Last-minute holiday gift idea: Subscription box gifts
Breo Box is one of the best curated boxes I’ve seen — and given myself as a gift!
First they receive the notification about their gift — then they get a second gift when they receive the first delivery! Whether you send a single subscription box or a full year’s worth, here are some for everyone on your list:
- 40 subscription gifts for kids of any age – browse them all!
- Highly curated book subscription gifts for kids via Cratejoy
- Kiwi Co. subscription boxes help kids from toddlers to tweens get super creative
- A cool clothing subscription for kids who don’t like the ordinary stuff
- Unique subscription boxes that teach kids kindness and gratitude
- The Little Feminist book box delivers monthly empowerment.
- Just Like Me Book Box highlights books with more diverse characters
- Mighty Kind, is a fun, compassionate, anti-racism, pro-kindness magazine subscription for today’s kids.
- Board game subscription boxes keep family game night fresh
- Food subscription boxes just for kids who love to cook
- A coffee subscription tailored exactly to someone’s tastes
- 19 of the very best food subscription gifts for adults
- Breo Box is one of the subscription gifts I’ve bought myself and it’s wonderful.
- Mantry is designed just for men, but I’ll eat everything in it myself.
- Mouth Foods Subscription boxes come in the most wonderful themes! All supporting indie gourmet brands too.
- 19 of our favorite subscription boxes for moms and grandmas
- 21 cool subscription gifts for men…from fair trade coffee to tech toys and everything in between
- A MasterClass subscription helps them learn a new skill or pursue a passion
- Love these wonderful but practical subscription boxes: A never-ending supply of razors? Toothbrushes? The best sponges ever in the age of Covid? Bring it on.
3. Last-minute holiday gift idea: Food and drinks
In addition to the subscription box ideas above, we’re huge fans of Sugarwish ecards — your recipient gets a festive notification via text or email, then pick out 2-12 of their favorite cookies, candies, popcorn, or other treats depending on what you specify. It’s perfect for kids, grandparents, teachers, colleagues, or that new mom surviving the fourth trimester. Psst… there’s a reason it’s also in our best gifts for teens list too.
The Cool Mom Eats Holiday Gift Guide is filled with even more great gift ideas — if they won’t ship in time, use them as inspiration for things you can pick up at a local store like these practical gifts for home cooks, or gifts for foodies and cooks that support small businesses
LAST-MINUTE HOMEMADE FOOD GIFTS
Check our giant list of more than 200+ homemade holiday gift ideas, which includes links to tons of homemade food gift ideas, but here are a few worth highlighting:
- The amazing DIY chocolate bombs that our kids love
- 16 mason jar food gifts that are sweet for teachers and neighbors.
- Easy homemade food gifts for the holidays for those short on time
- Christmas bark recipes are always a favorite
- Homemade liquor gifts are super popular with our readers this year!
- Make a DIY gift basket around a favorite theme: Chocolate, gummy gross-outs, movie night treats. We like this DIY Christmas morning coffee gift basket idea via TomKat Studio blog.
LAST-MINUTE HOMEMADE HOLIDAY COOKIE GIFTS
- 24 favorite holiday cookie recipes shared by Cool Mom Eats readers. (Be sure to read these 10 festive ways to package holiday cookies so they’re super gifty.)
- An array of giftable pop culture gingerbread recipes from unicorns to Star Wars to Doctor Who.
- The best holiday cookie recipes for people who don’t like baking.
- For foodie friends: This exquisite homemade shortbread cookies with lavender salt
- Creative holiday bake sale treats that also make fantastic food gifts.
- 5 thumbprint cookie recipes that are almost too gorgeous to eat. Almost.
- Semi-homemade, no-bake holiday cookie balls that will kind of blow you away
- 7 Christmas bark recipes with a twist, from melted snowmen to hidden reindeer.
FOOD GIFTS THAT SHIP OR DELIVER
- Plenty of bakeries and other food delivery that ships nationwide deliver priority or overnight — making it a perfect last minute gift. Try Goldbelly for a ton of ideas — including Levain Bakery holiday cookie assortment shown above.
- eCreamery ice cream delivery ( is one of our go-to gifts, in part because of their holiday flavors and custom (or semi-custom) labels.
- Alternately, try Jeni’s ice-cream non-dairy bundle for vegans or lactose-free friends and family.
- Mouth Foods creates wonderful gourmet boxes with a sense of humor — including the Bummer Box for people who aren’t feeling too merry right now.
- It’s never too late for these Hanukkah food gifts that deliver from the best places around the country.
- 19 of the very best food subscription gifts for everyone from coffee drinkers to amateur mixologists to sweet-lovers and kid cooks.
- Mail-order cookies from the best bakeries around the country — who could say no? Even if they get an IOU for now.
- Missing NYC or shopping for someone who does?Try these food gifts supporting favorite NYC food institutions. They all deliver.
- Food gift ideas for men from Black-owned businesses aren’t just for men and dads, trust us
- Use your favorite food delivery app and send something local — a pizza, sushi, an entire cheesecake, you name it.
- Shopping for a whole family? Try these fabulous food gifts for families, which includes tons of last-minute options.
WINE + COCKTAIL GIFTS
- Wine is a fantastic last-minute gift idea for so many people on your list. Order from Drizly, which is like GrubHub for local liquor stores.
- If you’re shopping in person, make a bottle more festive using one our 8 creative ways to wrap wine for gifting
- Go straight to a local distillery, vineyard or brewery. Christina has been singing the praises the incredlble spiced rum from Distillery 43 (above) which is local to her in Massachusetts.
- Want a fabulous bourbon? Liz just put together a helpful — and hilarious — bourbon gift guide on her Substack.
- A Minibar Delivery gift card is so fun and starts at just $25.
- For a splurge, check out Flaviar’s Annual Membership Subscriptions.
- This post on adults-only gourmet gift boxes includes the clever Shaker & Spoon monthly mixology boxes.
- If you know a non-drinker, there are so many wonderful ideas for them too — we’re big fans of Curious Elixirs, which you can find in gourmet stores
4. Last-minute holiday gift idea: Printable artwork
There are so many independent artists who do amazing work and are kind enough to share it with the rest of us — 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.
If you’re panicked because you forgot to order something from our best Taylor Swift gifts for your special Swiftie post, you’ll never go out of style with the cool printable Taylor Swift Lyrics Art from Artie Print Shop.
If you want something more festive, check out the retro-modern holiday ornament art from KT Graphic Design.
Search “printable quote art” on Etsy for a lot more affordable options. If you don’t have the supplies at home, visit any local copy shop, FedEx or UPS, which are open for extended holiday hours.
5. Last-minute holiday gift idea: A digital subscription
- For a practical gift: I cannot recommend a subscription to 1Password more highly — I’m even getting one for my parents this year! (Also check out 1Password for Families, especially if you have online teens always asking for your streaming passwords, ahem.)
- Practical in a different way: A subscription to one of these top meditation or mindfulness apps
- A gift to a digital newspaper or magazine is always thoughtful. From The Washington Post to The New Yorker (above)
- Calling all Wordle fans! Did you know you can give a subscription gift just for NY Times Games? Including the crossword, Spelling Bee, Wordle, and everyone’s new favorite obsession, Connections.
- For film and TV fans: A subscription to Hulu, Apple+, HBO (or is it MAX?), or Prime Video can be a practical gift — especially for college students, or for grandparents who have a little more time to watch. A YouTube TV subscription can help cut the cable cord
- For music lovers: Spotify Premium and Apple Music.
- For readers (or listeners): Compare these 5 different audiobook subscriptions
- For podcast fans: See if their favorite podcast offers a plus-up for paid subscribers
- For your teens and college students: Gift cards for Lyft or Uber.
- For readers: A gift Substack subscription to support an independent writer/publisher, from Rebecca Woolf, to Roxanne Gay, to Gabrielle Blair to Frederick Joseph
- A subscription to the Skylight calendar is a great idea for busy parents who like practical gifts.
- For more ideas, we have an entire list of 20 digital subscription gifts for last-minute gifting, from apps to book subscriptions, music, film and entertainment.
- We also have 8 of the best STEM, tech, and geeky subscription gifts just for kids.
6. Last-minute holiday gift idea: Cool tech, of course.
- Tech gifts abound at Best Buy, Target, and Apple of course (AirPods Max FTW!) if you can hit the stores.
- See Cool Mom Tech for inspiration like tech stocking stuffers or the best tech for teens, according to our teens.
- Depending where you live, your local Apple Store may have same-day pick-up — or delivery in as soon as 2 hours!
- Don’t sleep on stores like Nordstrom for fun tech accessories and stocking stuffers.
- Having trouble finding any gaming system in stock one week out? We got a tip about this Nintendo Switch bundle, which includes the super-fun Super Smash Bros game. Order online for pickup at your local Best Buy. (Also available at GameStop and Walmart)
- Instant download a favorite game for XBox, Playstation, Wii or Nintendo Switch –is so smart and easy for a last-minute holiday gift.
- Here are our team’s favorite video games to play together as a family.
- Don’t miss Just Dance 2024: Whoo!
- If you need a gift for kids of all ages, Super Mario Bros; Wonder is terrific.
- 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.
7. Last-minute holiday gift ideas: Experience gifts and memberships
- Gifts like an annual family membership to a local museum, zoo, science center, or indoor play space is a gift really does keep giving.
- These virtual experience gift ideas for kids and adults were a great idea during Covid, but still keep long-distance families connected.
- Tickets to a show at a local theater, concert venue, or other performing arts institution would be wonderful — both for the venue and for your giftee.
- You can never go wrong with a library membership for your kids, if they’re ready to upgrade from the children’s library
- Yes, Groupon is still around and you can grab an affordable Groupon local experience gift or gift memberships — minute experience gifts like a session or full-year membership to your local trampoline park! Great for kids who already have tons of toys and lots of energy! You’ll also find fantastic options for dining out, local getaways, and classes of all types. (Our recommendation:Always read the reviews to insure you’re truly getting both a great deal and a wonderful gift.)
Trampoline photo by BenMoses M via Unsplash
8. Last-minute gift ideas: DIY gifts or crafts from the kids.
Aw, it’s hard to go wrong with handmade. Check out our giant list of more than 200+ homemade holiday gift ideas. A few highlights:
- Last minute DIY holiday gifts for friends. And family, who you like enough to call friends.
- 15 thoughtful DIY gifts for teenage girls that they can make their own friends, or you can make for them.
- 12 handmade and DIY gifts that kids can make themselves. (and it keeps them nice and busy this week!)
- Food crafts for kids are easy, adorable, and make great gifts.
- This guide to 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
- Easy handmade ornaments for kids – perfection.
- A tutorial for DIY Santa slime — fun for kids to make for their friends.
- Handmade tie-dye t-shirt tutorials.
- 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!
- Photo gifts are always special too! Check out these creative kids’ portraits ideas, and all you have to do is add a frame.
- We’ve got tips for taking better holiday photos of your kids, perfect for grandparent gifts.
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.
Zombie Survival Kit | Sandy Toes & Popsicles
- DIY gift baskets can be so fun. Start with this DIY gift basket tutorial and then go wild. But need some idea starters?
- How about a zombie survival gift kit for Last of Us fanatics? Or a family movie night gift basket that helps you put together a home theater.
- You could give someone who you just know would love bingeing The Crown a Netflix subscription plus one of these cool The Crown fan gifts, along with some microwave popcorn — and a tiara of course. Maybe in a hat box?
- Have a Ted Lasso diehard in your life? Gather a few of these cool Ted Lasso gifts, plus some of their favorite coffee and of course homemade biscuits, and you’re good to go.
- Give someone the gift of chill with a DIY pampering basket filled with lots of scented candles and bath bombs.
- For kids, think art and craft supplies, mini games, or gifts around a theme they love, like superheroes, Star Wars, Fortnite, or rainbows and unicorns.
- Visit a local restaurant and put together a few faves for their biggest fan — they may have cookbooks, t-shirts, mugs, coffee, or other gifts.
9. Last-minute gift ideas: 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.
- 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, will accept orders as late as 12/20.
- Local stores same-day delivery through Doordash, if you don’t have time to brave the mall.
- Don’t forget unexpected beauty destinations. Our favorite NARS cheek duo can be grabbed from Sephora stores inside Kohl’s.
- Sugarwish now offers spa gifts! From $25 minis to a $99 deluxe pack with 8 choices, your recipient can pick the items they love best.
- Anthropologie and Target also offer body and beauty gifts in every price range and of course local salons and small chemists do too. Liz swears by City Chemist in NYC, which always has gifts from high-end brands like Tata Harper, Smashbox and Dr Hauschka.
- Contact local hair salons, spas, gyms, or aestheticians for high-end beauty gifts that you may not be able to find in regular stores.
10. Last-minute holiday gift idea: Gift cards, done cooler.
Free printable “mix tape” gift card box at Handmade Charlotte
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. While everyone loves a card to their favorite store, restaurant chain, Apple Music, Nintendo, or Google Play of course — we also love supporting small and local businesses.
- Check out 12 ways to make the most popular gift cards even gifty — like the cool printable boxes above!
- Here are some more DIY and printable gift card holder ideas that beat a store-bought gift card holder. (Though are fine too.)
- Stop by your favorite local coffee houses, salons, toy stores, restaurants, salons, and boutiques. And they often have their own gift certificates for sale. (Who couldn’t use a massage right now?)
- There’s always e-gift cards too. (Don’t forget Etsy gift cards.) And yay for shopping in your PJs!
- 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.
11. Last-minute gift idea: A thoughtful charitable donation
This is the one kind of gift that may be last-minute, but it’s never last in our hearts. On our 2023 guide to 20 special gifts that give back to great causes, we’ve included a full list of our favorites. But what really matters is what your recipient is passionate about. If you pick the right organization, nothing will be more meaningful to them.